It is often said that with great challenges come great opportunities. And I’ve seen my share of challenges during 31 years in the meat and poultry industry.
I have worked in a variety of roles throughout my career. This includes in the swine industry as a live animal veterinarian, for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (in every role from an in-plant public health veterinarian to the administrator), as a senior policy advisor for a leading law firm in DC and as the international head of food safety and quality for a small food company. Most recently, I have served as the vice president for Regulatory Policy for Food and Agriculture at Tyson Foods.
When I reflect on my career, I think of many situations that have been defining points for the industry – and in which I have played a role. The first E. coli illnesses in children, the appearance of Mad Cow Disease, and the arrival of avian flu , just to name a few. Each of these events has been significant, but none has quite compared to what our country, and we at Tyson Foods, has faced since COVID-19 began.
Like so many, I never could have imagined the changes that would have resulted from the arrival of COVID-19. But what amazes me even more are the bold actions I have observed taken by our leadership and the remarkable team members of Tyson, and the way they have turned challenges into opportunities.
Their commitment to team member safety has not wavered. Leadership has helped ensure our frontline workers are safe and thriving in their environments with protective face coverings, hand sanitizer, physical barriers between workstations, the assistance of Matrix Medical Network with onsite health needs, increased short-term disability coverage to 90%, and more. They have personally headed to the frontlines to verify our safety measures are being implemented – and thank our team members for their hard work.
I am proud of our team’s dedication to feed the nation and produce the products my family loves to eat – all while taking great care to keep our frontline workers safe.
I have watched Tyson show care for every part of the food supply chain by taking measures to assist producers, reduce beef prices, and aid consumers during these uncertain times. Since early March, we’ve been able to provide 60 million meals through food donations to employees and food banks. And we’re just getting started.
I have seen crises handled from many different vantage points over the years. But COVID-19 has been different. It came without warning, and it has affected all of our employees.
Tyson’s response to this pandemic makes me proud to be a team member. And I know many of the ways we have adapted to keep our team members safe and our nation fed during this crisis will make us better in the future.