Moved by the work of the firefighters and CERT volunteers during the recent and ongoing wildfires in California, Hormel Foods Corporation, a global branded food company, and Jennie-O Turkey Store partnered with the Napa County Office of Emergency Services and Napa Valley celebrity chef Christina Machamer to honor and host a Thanksgiving luncheon for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) yesterday.

"We are certainly excited to be giving thanks to all of the men and women who do heroic work, oftentimes behind the scenes, to keep our communities safe," said Scott Leathers, customer business manager for northern California at Hormel Foods. "When we asked what we could do, in typical firefighter fashion not wanting to be in the spotlight, they told us about their special program with citizen volunteers."

"The CERT program is a very important part of what we do for our communities," said Ken Arnold, retired police chief and CERT program manager for Napa County. "Our community volunteers do incredible work and to have a recognition event like this to just say 'thank you' goes a long, long way."

"CERT members have successfully taken on tasks that help us enormously with disaster management," said Kent Barnes, firefighter and paramedic for the American Canyon Fire Protection District. "Hormel Foods has given back to the community by providing a great appreciation luncheon to the CERT/CART members. As a First Responder, that means a lot to us and we greatly appreciate what CERT/CART does for all Napa County residents."

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The CERT program is unique in that it pairs firefighters and emergency personnel with community volunteers. In the month of October, 2019, 25-30 CERT members from various communities located in Napa County volunteered over 500 hours in two separate power outages and a 500-plus-acre fire. The CERT program is an all-risk, all-hazard training course that teaches private citizens to take independent actions to support their local communities in times of disaster. CERT volunteers are especially helpful when local fire and law agencies are overwhelmed by the number and/or scope of emergencies.

Hormel Foods reached out to Machamer, a winner of Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" and a professional chef and certified sommelier who has worked with Gordon Ramsay, Thomas Keller and other well-known culinarians, to help with the event.

"One of the best things about being a chef is creating a meal that makes people happy. It is especially rewarding when we can do so to honor those first responders who have helped and supported our community during the tragic wildfires that are becoming our new normal in California," said Machamer. "We are lucky to have the support of companies like Hormel Foods and Jennie-O to pull everything together."

Hormel Foods has been recognized for its strong tradition of corporate responsibility, which includes lifting communities where it has a presence. From its earliest days more than a century ago, the company has supported those who serve: active troops and military veterans; law enforcement officials and firefighters, among them.