Hormel Foods Corporation has shuttered production for two weeks at its Rochelle, Ill. plant and Alma, Kan. plant amid COVID-19 concerns. Rochelle Foods, LLC is pausing production for a period of 14 days based on a notice of closure from the local health department, while Alma Foods, LLC announced Saturday, out of an abundance of caution, it will temporarily pause operations at its facility and resume production on Monday, May 4. The production pause was due to one employee testing positive for COVID-19 and the additional team members in contact with this individual outside of the facility.
Since the Alma plant is a smaller production facility with minimal staffing, the company decided it was the best decision to pause the operations for 14 days to ensure the safety of its approximately 100 team members. A wholly owned subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corporation, Alma Foods produces a line of fully cooked meals and entrees as well as Saucy Blues barbeque for foodservice.
"The health and well-being of our team members is our top priority," says Shane Weers, Alma Foods plant manager. "Our team of production professionals has been doing an outstanding job as they have been doing their part to help provide food during this difficult time. I am so proud of them and I know we will all look forward to being back together on May 4. In the meantime, we continue to strategically manage our supply chain and am confident we will continue to meet the needs of our customers during this time."
Under its pay program, all Alma Foods team members will continue to receive 100% of their base pay and benefits during the 14-day pause in production.
The Rochelle plant, which makes retail and food service products, is working with local officials to further understand the closure order and consulting with internal and external subject matter experts to understand next steps to reopen the facility. The plant will also pay its team members during these 14 days.
"We have decided to close our facility to ensure a broader understanding of COVID-19 and the impact to our operations," says Bill Rice, Rochelle Foods plant manager. "Unfortunately, the outbreak has had an effect on our ability to fully operate. We have been part of the fabric of this community for decades, so this news is incredibly disappointing to our great team of people. For years, we have provided support to our local food banks and made products used by FEMA and other disaster response programs in times of need. To help continue to do our part, we are eager to reopen soon and start making our great products, just as we have done uninterrupted for decades."
Team members are working diligently to minimize the impact on operations and the products made there such as bacon products and microwave meals.
Upon reopening both plants will implement further santation and safety enhancements, including education for team members on the COVID-19 virus, increased sanitization frequency, providing additional personal protective equipment, prohibiting outside visitors and taking team members' temperatures.