The Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA), Tillamook, Ore., said its farmer-owners have committed $4 million to a comprehensive COVID-19 relief plan to help its employees, the communities in which the company operates, and industry partners respond to and recover from burdens created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Extraordinary challenges require extraordinary responses, and it's a time for businesses — including ours — to step up in a big way," said Patrick Criteser, TCCA's president and CEO. "We are inspired by the critical role we play in keeping food on America's tables and are fortunate that our company is strong right now so we can help others."
TCCA said it will focus most of its relief efforts in the rural Oregon communities where the company operates production facilities and where many TCCA employees work and live — in Tillamook and Morrow Counties.
"From our founding more than 100 years ago, we've always been a company that cares for our communities," said Shannon Lourenzo, TCCA farmer-owner and chairman of the board. "People across the country are hunkering down at home and looking out for family, friends and neighbors. We are rising up to support the people and the places that have supported us for decades."
TCCA said key elements of its relief efforts include:
- Expanding sick leave, offering premium pay for front-line manufacturing workers and maintaining full wages and benefits for all employees, even those who were working at the company's temporarily closed Tillamook Creamery visitor experience. The company is also creating a special resilience fund for team members experiencing substantial financial distress.
- Doubling paid volunteer hours for employees and establishing a new employee donation matching program, so employees can directly participate in relief efforts.
- Increasing the scale of direct-to-community product donations and expanding community enrichment funding to support nonprofits severely impacted by the pandemic, particularly those that serve the company's three primary focus areas for giving: Food Security, Healthful Children and Agricultural Advocacy. At the outset, this includes immediate donations to several organizations that serve the needs of its hometown communities, including:
- $200,000 to the Oregon Food Bank, a longstanding partner, to address food insecurity statewide, including significant donations to the food banks in Tillamook and Morrow Counties.
- $100,000 to the Oregon Community Foundation to support its relief efforts in communities across the state.
- $20,000 to Tillamook County Action Resource Enterprises, Inc. (CARE) to help with rental, energy and other emergency services for low- to middle-income families in Tillamook County who have been laid off or lost wages as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
- $15,000 to the Tillamook County Wellness program to help fund a new youth outdoor recreation coordinator.
- $10,000 to Tillamook Early Learning Center to help keep one of the few childcare facilities in Tillamook afloat and offer scholarships to families returning to care once they reopen.
- $5,000 to the Oregon State University Foundation to fund scholarships for students studying agriculture.
Earmarking another $500,000 to create or invest in programs that aid business revitalization efforts in Tillamook and Morrow Counties and support the communities' small businesses as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
"Local nonprofits and small businesses are part of the fabric of rural communities, and we know they are hurting," said Criteser. "We see an opportunity in our hometowns to help meet the unprecedented needs created by the pandemic. By investing in programs that support our hometowns, ideally we can help return our communities to their thriving and robust potential and perhaps even create a model of business helping businesses that could be replicated elsewhere."
While the bulk of its relief efforts will be focused on hometown support, TCCA said it is also planning to support its retail, restaurant and foodservice partners nationwide. Those efforts will include financial and product donations to support COVID-19 response efforts in the weeks and months ahead.
"We've built a lot of flexibility and accountability into our overall response plan," said Criteser. "We will learn along the way and adapt as needed to ensure we're making as strong of an impact as we possibly can."
More details about TCCA's comprehensive COVID-19 response plan can be found at Tillamook.com/COVID.