The Hershey Company has announced that it is committing US$1 million/£803k to acquire, install and staff a new manufacturing line dedicated to the production of facemasks. The new line, which will be capable of producing up to 45,000 masks per day, will become operational near the end of May.
“Supporting our communities in difficult times is part of our legacy and an important value that our current employees share,” said Michele Buck, President and CEO. “From the building projects that created local jobs during the Great Depression, to producing military rations during World War II, we take great pride in making a difference where we can.”
Leveraging its internal engineering capabilities, and its relationships with equipment manufacturer JR Automation and General Motors, who is making similar masks, the company is moving quickly to address the nationwide shortage of protective equipment.
“Disposable masks will be an integral piece of protecting the health and safety of our employees, their families and our community as we move forward over the weeks and months ahead,” said Jason Reiman, Chief Supply Chain Officer. “Changing how we work, and adding this capability is a testament to the adaptability of our team, and our desire to make a difference.”
Converting operations to address a critical need is the latest step in the company’s ongoing efforts to support communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, Hershey has donated millions in cash and product to benefit community safety net organisations and a variety of healthcare organisations, whilst simultaneously supporting employee safety and wellbeing.
To support basic needs in communities where it operates, the company has made cash donations to a variety of partners including United Way Worldwide, Feeding America and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, as well as numerous food banks across the US Globally, Hershey has joined other major chocolate companies who have collectively donated hundreds of millions to support international relief agencies in delivering COVID-19 education and protection in cocoa-growing communities.
Hershey has also expanded its donation programmes to support hospitals and healthcare institutions across the US It’s delivered tens of thousands of pounds of treats to more than 50 facilities in over a dozen states to lift the spirits of front-line health workers, and provide encouragement through small “moments of goodness” throughout their days.
Closer to home, the company is working closely with the professionals from the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center by making donations of N95 masks and surgical gloves, along with hand sanitising stations. Hershey is also donating warehouse space and supply chain expertise to operate a 22,000-square foot distribution centre on the Hershey Company campus to help the flow of supplies from Penn State Health to its network of providers.
In addition to its local healthcare efforts, Hershey continues to work closely with Milton Hershey School, providing product donations, rallying employees to provide messages of support to students, and continuing to provide virtual guest speakers for the school’s award-winning Hershey Honors Business programme.
Ensuring the health and security of Hershey employees is a primary focus of the company’s COVID response. From the outset of the current crisis, the company has worked to offer various options to enable employees to continue working with enhanced safety and economic security.
Increased safety and protective measures, modified and flexible work schedules, work-from-home options, pay incentives and enhanced assistance programmes have been implemented to help employees navigate this challenging time.
“Hershey’s remarkable employees are the first and foremost priority during this extraordinary time,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Chris Scalia. “They not only make it possible to maintain our operations as a critical piece of our communities’ food supply but also exemplify our commitment to excellence, safety and our belief that we are stronger together.”