John Deere Employees, Others
Pack 50,000 Meals In 3.5 Hours!
BY SARAH R. GREGORY
Employees of John Deere Power Products worked on a new kind of assembly line Friday -- packaging nearly 50,000 meals for distribution by Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee.
More than 100 volunteers worked to prepare 50,000 packages of protein-fortified macaroni-and-cheese meals Friday at the plant on Hal Henard Road.
Working in teams, volunteers weighed and measured from bulk packages of macaroni pasta, soy protein, and cheese to prepare and seal individual units for distribution through Second Harvest Food Bank.
John Deere employees were also joined by family members, friends and other volunteers from the community.
Teams worked efficiently in an assembly-line fashion beginning at 8 a.m.
By 9:45 a.m., nearly half of the meals -- just over 23,750 -- had been packaged, boxed, and wrapped in plastic on a pallet, ready for shipment to Second Harvest's distribution center.
Volunteers planned to finish by noon, but exceeded their own expectations by finishing all 50,000 packages before 11:30 a.m.
"We want to give a special thank you to everyone who came to help," said Factory Manager Jeff Hollett.
"We had a lot of John Deere associates, some family members and friends, and people from the Volunteer Center," he added.
"We just want to thank them for helping us pack up these 50,000 meals. It's going to be of great benefit to the community," Hollett said.
Food was provided by the John Deere Foundation, and the meal packaging event was coordinated through Outreach International, an Iowa-based organization.
Bryan Coffey, of Outreach International, said the John Deere Foundation partners with Outreach for similar events at its other plants as well.
In all, John Deere Foundation and Outreach International have provided more than 1,000,000 meals for those in need, he said.
John Deere Foundation, Coffey said, selects beneficiaries of such drives. In this area, product generated during the meal-packaging event will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee.
Second Harvest will then distribute the meals to its partner agencies to serve those in need in this region.
A news release from Second Harvest says about 30 percent of individuals in Greene County may be considered food-insecure -- or lacking certainty of when and from where their next meal may come.
Last year, Second Harvest provided more than 1.4 million pounds of food to numerous Greene County agencies for distribution, including Free Will Baptist Family Ministries (Family Ministries), Greeneville-Greene County Community Ministries Food Bank, Greeneville Seventh-day Adventist Community Services Center, Mosheim Community Outreach, Mountain Vision Ministries, Northern Greene County Ministries, Tabernacle Mission Soup Kitchen, and others.
The Food for Kids program serves children in the Greeneville City and Greene County school systems -- many of whom are also served during the summer by Second Harvest's Summer Food Service programs.
Additional information about Second Harvest is available online at http://www.netfoodbank.org.
Information about Outreach International can be found at http://www.outreachprogram.org.
To learn more about the John Deere Foundation, visit http://www.deere.com and go to "citizenship" under the "Our Company" heading.