In the United States, 1 in 8 people face hunger – it affects people in every zip code in the country. Further, according to the CDC, frequently the nutritional quality of food available at food banks is inadequate for a healthy diet, and food bank clients’ fruit and vegetable consumption falls short of recommendations. At Fresh Del Monte, we are committed to supporting our communities by working to provide those in need with healthy fruits and vegetables.
This year, that commitment was more important than ever with our communities around the globe facing uncertainty due to the challenges brought on by COVID-19. In this time of crisis, we worked tirelessly to expand our donation capacity, in order to serve our communities most impacted by COVID-19. We nominated Community Support Leaders in each of our North American ports, who coordinated and distributed donations to local schools, food banks and organizations in need. Thanks to their efforts, and the work of our teams across the nation, we donated more than 16 million pounds of fresh produce to a diverse network of 40 different organizations this year.
We chatted with our Community Support Leader, Art Bouvet, to learn more about the work the team at our Port Hueneme operation in Oxnard, California is doing to fight against food insecurity. The Port Hueneme team set the tone for ambitious action at Fresh Del Monte this year and won four separate awards for their leadership and donations of over 6.4 million pounds of fresh produce.
How does the donation process work at Port Hueneme?
I was lucky to come into the department that had two great donation partners established 14 years ago, Children’s Hunger Fund and Ventura County Food Share. From there, we have expanded our reach to include many great partners that accept our donations throughout the state. Beyond connecting produce to entities in need, once a month, Team Fresh Del Monte volunteers at Ventura County Food Share (a local food bank). We have our own employee night of packing emergency food boxes as well as our own booth where we hand out food boxes and bags at drive through food drives. Our team helped pack and distribute emergency food boxes that provided food for thousands of individuals within our community!
Why is supporting the community important to you?
Community is very important to me because my family and friends are part of the community. I have coached youth sports for over ten years and have been a part of the community and guiding our youth on and off the field. Our Port Manager, Chuck Caulkins has also been a great leader and I have seen him volunteer over the years in the community. I am proud of the company and the work we do here getting our product out to the families in need and not letting it go to waste.
I believe our efforts for many years have inspired the port and the other companies to take action in the community during COVID-19. I believe we have set the standard for what a company should do for its community and that is a great honor.