( Graphic by Brooke Park )

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect industry companies in different ways, and they are responding with everything from donations to frontline employees to rolling out plans to keep employees safe.

Recent news from the industry include the following stories.

California Table Grape Commission

The California Table Grape Commission, Fresno, is promoting grapes’ nutritional value and immunity-boosting qualities as the pandemic places a greater focus on the health properties of food.

According to a news release from the association, research has shown grapes’ benefits to the brain, heart and colon, and two professors at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy have written a paper showing that diets with grapes and other fresh produce can help “flatten the COVID-19 curve.

The paper was written by Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School, Simin Nikbin Meydani, a professor at the school, and former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman.

Other media have highlighted grapes’ health attributes: a Good Housekeeping article, “10 Health Benefits of Grapes That’ll Make You Want to Eat the Whole Bunch,” highlights how grapes regulate blood pressure, lower the risk of diabetes and can help with weight loss. A Men’s Health article,

“Feast Upon the 100 Best Foods For Men,” highlights the antioxidant power of grapes to help fight disease, according to the release.

Divine Flavor

Divine Flavor Repackers, which is affiliated with Divine Flavor LLC., reports that employees have tested positive for COVID-19, but the company acted quickly and sent all employees, including management, to health clinics to be tested.

The company paid for the tests and asked employees who worked near the employees who tested positive to self-quarantine, even if they were negative for the disease, according to a news release.

The company “has been on a mission to be an example for how to respond” for when employees test positive, according to a news release.

“As a company, our employees are always the number-one priority,” Jose Antonio Martinez, general manager of Divine Flavor, said in the release. “Because we took swift action with all of our employees, this allowed us to verify no other departments were affected by this situation.”

The company had already adopted preventive measures, including temperature screenings, increased sanitation and stay-at-home guidelines for employees with COVID-like symptoms.

“Starting at the very beginning of this pandemic, our company has implemented very stringent measures all designed to protect our workers the best ways possible,” Sergio Cienfuegos, warehouse manager, said in the release.

The company has been in contact with local health agencies.

They are fully aware of our COVID-19 protocols and actions, and have recognized them as being thorough and consistent with the recommended guidelines,” Martinez said in the release.

According to Nolages Internatonal, four employees at the company tested positive.

The Fibre Box Association

The Fibre Box Association, Itasca, Ill., which represents corrugated cardboard box manufacturers, has created a video to thank the industry’s essential workers.

There are 1,183 box plants in the U.S., according to a news release from the association, employing more than 100,000 people.

“FBA salutes the front-line employees of the corrugated industry,” according to the release. “The association is grateful for the dedication and commitment of corrugated industry companies, their employees and suppliers, for making corrugated packaging.  FBA extends a thank you for the work the industry is doing to keep the supply chain moving.”

Disruption in the availability of the goods that are shipped in corrugated cardboard would cause “significant hardship to consumers across the country,” according to the Fibre Box Association. Close to 40% of all corrugated packaging each year is used to package food and beverages, according to the release.

Hy-Vee/Sol Group

Hy-Vee, in partnership with melon supplier Sol Group, is donating more than 1,200 cantaloupes to Just Food, a Lawrence, Kan., food bank.

On May 15, the retailer delivered two pallets of cantaloupes to the food bank.

“Hy-Vee has always been about giving back to the communities they serve,” Adam Lazo, head of sales for Sol Group Marketing, said in a news release. “We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to help them take care of those in need.”  

The donation is part of a series of donations Hy-Vee and Sol Group are making to food banks in the retailer’s eight-state region.

“We are extremely grateful for Sol Group’s partnership in helping us care for our communities during this difficult time,” Tina Potthoff, Hy-Vee’s senior vice president of communications, said in the release. “We are committed to helping our local food banks and hope this donation will provide some relief for them and our communities.”

Olive Hill Greenhouses

Fallbrook, Calif.-based Olive Hill Greenhouses is donating thousands of plants to first responders and others on the front line of in the health care field contending with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Olive Hill Greenhouses, a multi-generation family owned company, is working with Irvine-based Plantscapers Inc. to provide flowering plants to health care workers in Southern California communities. The company has donated of thousands of bromeliads, a slow-growing and long-lived house plant.

“We can see how much this pandemic is affecting our neighbors and our state, and we want to help as much as we can,” Denise Godfrey, with Olive Hill Greenhouses, said in a news release. “While we know that first responders are incredibly absorbed in this crisis and caring for people, it’s just as important for us to take care of our community members struggling emotionally at this time, as well as help really brighten the days those on the front lines fighting this outbreak.”

SFL Cos.

SFL Cos., Rochester, Mich., offered free freight services to Feeding America for a local food bank shipment.

The shipment, on April 29, came as supplies to food banks dipped with skyrocketing demand during the pandemic, according to a news release. SFL Cos. regularly provides freight services for Feeding America, which has a network of member food banks across the U.S.

“SFL wanted to make a positive impact during this challenging time with COVID-19, and donated their freight services to Feeding America for a local food bank shipment,” according to the release.

For more information on how companies are helping out during the pandemic, see The Packer's COVID-19 webpage.

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