The closure of workplaces and schools nationwide in the last several weeks is leading to increasing food insecurity for many Americans, including low-income families, housebound individuals and children unable to access free school breakfast and lunch. Danone North America, a producer of dairy products and plant-based dairy alternatives based in White Plains, N.Y., and Broomfield, Colo., said it is donating $1.2 million in funds, plus an additional $300,000 in product donations, to organizations making a local impact on food access in communities across the country.
The donation will include support for New York-based City Harvest and Feeding Westchester, as well as Colorado-based Community Food Share and We Don’t Waste — food access organizations in two states in which Danone North America has headquarters offices and large employee populations. The funds will include donations to food access organizations in the 12 communities nationwide where it makes many of its products, including in California, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Virginia, Danone North America said.
These organizations will use the donated funds to purchase fresh and nonperishable food, pick up and distribute unused food from businesses or workplaces that have closed, mobilize volunteers and deliver food either to food banks or directly to people in need.
In Colorado, as part of a longtime partnership with food access organization Community Food Share, Danone North America has already donated $20,000 to a rapid response fund that will be used to provide emergency food services in response to school closures and other local disruptions. In addition, the company said it donates more than 1,000 gallons of Horizon Organic milk weekly to help Community Food Share serve local residents.
“We are seeing a sharp increase in local need for food during this crisis,” said Kim Ruotsala, executive director of Community Food Share. “Last week when the schools closed statewide, we had our single highest distribution day ever at our Louisville (Colo.) facility, including many individuals and families who were visiting the food bank for the first time. This donation from Danone North America, our partner of more than 20 years, will help ensure we can keep food flowing into the community.”
Additionally, last week Danone North America donated approximately 50,000 cups of yogurt, including yogurt under the Activia, Two Good, Dannon, Oikos and Light + Fit brands, and 56,000 Horizon Organic milk boxes to Feeding Westchester to support residents in New Rochelle, N.Y., one of the communities that has been significantly affected by COVID-19. Feeding Westchester is working with the National Guard to distribute the donated food to New Rochelle residents living within the local containment area, Danone North America said. Feeding Westchester will also be working with municipalities, school districts and partner agencies throughout the county.
“For many children across Westchester, no school means no food,” said Judy Campisi, senior director of development for Feeding Westchester. “With districts closed across the county, Feeding Westchester has led the charge to make sure students who rely on free or reduced breakfast and lunch still have access to good, nutritious food.
“Danone North America stepped up at a time we face the greatest need we have ever seen for things like yogurt and shelf-stable milk,” she added. “Danone is a key local partner, and the product and funding they have donated are essential to helping us continue to support local families.”
City Harvest is New York City’s private response to hunger and largest food rescue organization. We Don’t Waste recovers and redistributes excess food to underserved populations in and around Denver.
Danone North America also announced enhanced benefits to provide support for its approximately 2,600 hourly employees working in manufacturing sites, which represents close to 50% of the company’s total employee population in North America. These benefits include a pay premium on top of their base hourly rate for all hours worked, paid quarantine leave for any employee who contracts the virus or is required to be quarantined at home, and up to 80 hours of pay for childcare support for eligible employees through April 30, 2020. The company said it will also continue to match eligible employee contributions to charitable organizations across the country, including food banks.