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Employees at Lebanon plant donate time for Puerto Rico hurricane relief

LEBANON, Ind. - Hurricane relief continues in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, and for 24 hours straight, a production line was dedicated to product that will ship there later this month.

At Skjodt-Barrett Foods, workers piece together retail-ready spouted and non-spouted flexible food pouches.

The company's president and CEO, Dan Skjodt said he wanted to help people there after a family friend told him about the destruction he saw on a visit there after the hurricanes had ripped through the area.

"A friend's wife is a Puerto Rico native," said Skjodt. "They are still working under horrific conditions, no water, no communication. Food is a challenge.”

The work started Friday at 3 a.m. Employees volunteered to work four hours, some before and others after their regular shift. There's roughly 20 workers for each of the six shifts over the day. The 120 volunteers in Lebanon will make 150,000 pouches. The company owns another plant around Toronto, Ontario, which will produce another 150,000 pouches.

“There are 175,000 children under the age of four and half of them living in poverty so there is still a huge need for support at this point," said Skjodt.

The pouches should be a good fit, as the product is targeted for children.

“It’s a blend of fruits, vegetables, and oats," said Skjodt. The company is putting together a pouch made by Plum Organics. “It's for any children over six months to right up to seniors. It’s a nutritional snack for any age group really, but we are hoping to focus in on the toddlers that really need it for their development.”

The company was able to make the contribution thanks to some donations. It's also getting help from the Lebanon Rotary Club, which has partnered with 21 different rotary groups in Puerto Rico to help distribute the product once it arrives.

Skjodt said the product has to be inspected for ten days before it can ship out. He expected it to arrive right around Thanksgiving Day.