Meat industry responds to Hurricane Harvey disaster
Perdue has committed a minimum of one million pounds of protein to support relief efforts in Houston and surrounding communities in southeastern Texas following historic flooding from Hurricane Harvey. Donated protein will be directed to local Feeding America-affiliated food banks and the Houston Independent School District.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those people affected by this developing tragedy,” said Steve Evans, president of Perdue Foods. “The images of suffering are heartbreaking and we’re compelled to do our part to help. We hope that our donation will provide some level of comfort to those impacted. We know the recovery process will be long and difficult for many, and Perdue will continue to look for ways to assist.”
As part of Perdue’s ongoing commitment to Feeding America, approximately half of the protein donation will be distributed to food banks in the Houston area, and Victoria and San Antonio, Texas. Rescue efforts are also under way for pets and animals, and Perdue has donated nearly 68,000 pounds of its Spot Farms® brand dehydrated dog food to Feeding America.
“As families in Houston and other areas in Texas that were devastated by Hurricane Harvey struggle to reclaim their communities, Feeding America is grateful to partners like Perdue that respond quickly with valuable product,” said Bill Thomas, chief supply chain officer at Feeding America. “Perdue’s contribution of fresh and frozen protein will provide nourishment through feeding sites to Texans who have been forced to evacuate as well as help fill meal boxes for those in their homes but recovering from the damage. Their donation of pet food recognizes the importance of feeding the whole family.”
In addition, the Houston Independent School District will receive 500,000 pounds of protein to assist feed victims and first responders through a network of nine feeding center in surrounding communities.
As HISD Nutrition Officer Betti Wiggins explains, “So many people – our students and their families, employees, and the community at-large – have lost so much. They’re worried about basic things, like shelter and how to start the rebuilding process. The donation from Perdue Farms will help us to feed them good, nutritious food and that will be one less thing for them to worry about.”
Cargill’s protein and animal nutrition businesses are providing food for the people and animal victims of Hurricane Harvey’s historic south Texas flooding. More than 3 million servings of easy-to-prepare protein are headed to Cargill’s food distribution center in San Antonio for dissemination to relief agencies serving the devastated flood zone that includes Houston and surrounding areas.
Working closely with state agencies and veterinarians, Cargill Animal Nutrition is donating six truckloads (300,000 pounds) of animal feed for impacted livestock in the region. Earlier in the week, Cargill contributed nearly $150,000 to support Red Cross and Feeding America local relief efforts.
“The enormity of the destructive natural force that impacted south Texas this past week, and the resulting images we have seen have been heart-wrenching,” said Brian Sikes, president of Wichita-based Cargill Protein. “I am truly proud to see how the agriculture sector is coming together to support the community. It is a reflection of our commitment to nourishing people, animals and the planet, especially in times of such great need. We will be providing more than 3 million servings of easy-to-prepare meats to aid those in need.”
The meat that Cargill is providing for relief efforts includes cooked seasoned ground beef, hot dogs and deli meats.
“Our hearts truly go out to all of those impacted by the devastation from Hurricane Harvey,” said Mark Lueking, managing director of Cargill’s U.S. Feed & Nutrition business. “At a time like this, it is important for us to come together and do whatever we can to help them begin the process of rebuilding. That’s why we are donating animal feed to ensure impacted farmers have what they need to keep their animals nourished during this trying and uncertain time.”
In addition to the above donations, Cargill employees are donating hurricane flood relief funds through a company program, with various Cargill businesses providing matching funds.
In response to historic flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Tyson Foods will send teams to prepare meals for those affected by and responding to the disaster. A cook site will be set up at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Conroe, Texas, and free, hot meals will be provided onsite beginning at 11 a.m. Friday morning for anyone who is in need. In addition, a distribution network will be established with local authorities and disaster relief organizations to deliver meals to flood victims in the Houston metro area.
Teams from Tyson Foods’ operations in Clarksville, Dardanelle, Scranton and Texarkana, Arkansas, will arrive onsite Thursday. The company’s Meals that Matter mobile relief truck will be sent from its home in Springdale, Arkansas, and is also expected to arrive onsite Thursday. The company is sending three tractor-trailer loads of product totaling nearly 100,000 pounds, one tractor-trailer load of bulk ice, one tractor-trailer load of bagged ice and one tractor-trailer load of bottled water.
Tyson Foods will be working closely with its disaster relief partners Bimbo Bakeries USA, Harris Baking Co., Hugg & Hall Equipment Co., and Peppersource to maximize relief efforts.
Team Rubicon, another disaster relief partner comprised of military veterans, is deploying its Mobile Command Center, which was donated by Tyson Foods in 2014 and includes sleeping quarters, and office and storage space for Team Rubicon’s staff and volunteers.
The company has also announced a $50,000 donation to the American Red Cross and $50,000 to the Salvation Army to assist in disaster relief efforts in Texas.
“With nearly 12,000 team members throughout the state of Texas and a facility in Houston, the damage left by Hurricane Harvey hits close to home,” said Debra Vernon, senior director, corporate social responsibility. “This deployment wouldn’t be possible without the support of our team members, disaster relief partners and customers who are all volunteering time and resources to make sure our response is as successful as possible.”
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is actively working with officials in Texas and Louisiana to ensure that people impacted by Hurricane Harvey have access to food now and after emergency operations are completed.
“In this time of crisis, with many grocery stores closed and other sources of food unavailable, USDA is committed to ensuring that our fellow Americans get the vital nutrition they need and is streamlining procedures to make that happen,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “President Trump made it clear to his cabinet that helping people is the first priority, and that process and paperwork can wait until later. USDA is already doing the work to help people in need today.”
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is working with officials in the affected region to help feed displaced and affected residents. The agency has granted several waivers in Texas allowing schools in the National School Lunch Program to provide free meals. It has also provided more flexibility to schools in what they can feed kids, given the challenges of preparing specific foods during this period.
“FNS works every day to ensure Americans have access to food, but it is during events like this that we have to be nimble,” said FNS Administrator Brandon Lipps. “Our job is to make it as easy as possible for our programs to be administered in a way that ensures no one affected by this disaster goes hungry.”
Steps already taken by USDA in Texas include:
- Approving a request by Texas officials to waive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) regulations to allow program participants to buy hot foods and hot ready-to-eat foods with their benefits. FNS has notified authorized SNAP retailers in Texas of this waiver, which will be in effect through September 30.
- Supporting the state in its plans to shift the full SNAP issuance schedule for September to the first of the month so that families have access to their monthly benefits sooner during this time of immediate crisis.
- Allowing all schools in declared disaster counties to waive the National School Lunch Program meal pattern and meal service time requirements. This will allow schools to serve meals that do not meet the menu planning or meal pattern requirements for schools and child care institutions and facilities in the affected areas through September 30.
- Allowing all disaster affected schools to provide meals to all students at no charge and be reimbursed at the free reimbursement rate through September 30.
- Providing the state the flexibility needed to allow seniors who participate in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program in the service areas impacted by the hurricane to receive two food packages in September to make up for the loss of their August food benefit.
- Approving Texas to designate schools not directly impacted by the Hurricane to serve as disaster organizations and shelters so that USDA foods can be used for congregate feeding, providing critical food assistance to those in need. USDA Foods include a variety of canned, fresh, frozen and dry products which include fruits, vegetables, meats, and whole grains.
Details of waivers can be found here. FNS is concurrently providing technical assistance to Louisiana and offering support as needed.
Sources: Perdue Farms, Cargill, Tyson Foods, USDA