Through community sales at churches, fire halls and community centers, Delmarva's chicken companies acted quickly to provide 2.4 million pounds of chicken - enough chicken for 9.4 million meals - directly to Delmarva's families this spring during the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition, Delmarva's five chicken companies donated 1 million pounds of chicken to food banks and aid organizations, enough to make 4 million meals. Recipients of the donations included the Maryland Food Bank, Food Bank of Delaware, Beebe Healthcare, and Foodbank of Southeast Virginia and the Eastern Shore.
"These tractor-trailer chicken sales and donations to food banks represent the Delmarva chicken community's determination to help our region when help is needed most," said Holly Porter, Delmarva Poultry Industry's executive director. "While our farmers and chicken companies do feed the world, during this crisis, we are meeting the needs of Delmarva first."
The chicken companies on Delmarva making the donations and arranging the community sales are Allen Harim, Amick Farms, Mountaire Farms, Perdue Farms and Tyson, who combined employ more than 20,000 people in the region.
"With the continuing impact of the coronavirus being felt across the U.S. and within our communities, people are relying more heavily on food banks to make ends meet," said Randy Day, CEO of Perdue Farms. "We remain committed to helping meet the tremendous needs within our communities, including those here on Delmarva who struggle to put food on their tables for their families during this crisis."
When reduced staffing at chicken processing plants, transportation companies and grocery stores made it harder for customers to find chicken on shelves, Delmarva's chicken companies acted quickly, beginning in March, to arrange events at which the public could buy 10-pound or larger packs of chicken at reduced cost directly from the companies. The events followed social distancing guidelines, usually allowing customers to drive through loading areas as the chicken was transferred from tractor-trailers to their cars by employees wearing face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
"We started offering trailer sales as a way to help our community find locally grown and harvested chicken when it was sold out in most stores. Since then, we've seen crowds steadily grow as people appreciate the ability to buy our product in larger quantities," said Catherine Bassett, director of communications and community relations for Mountaire Farms. "The demand for food is not going away and our employees are working hard to keep up with demand."