INDIANAPOLIS — For a small staff of about 10 to 12 people, they make the job of repacking bulks of chicken look easy.
“We do about 10,000 pounds a day,” said Fred Glass, president and CEO of Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, “So, in 4 days, we’ll completely process 40,000 pounds of chicken, which is a semi-truck full of chicken legs.”
In partnership with Feeding America and its member food banks, like Gleaners, Tyson Foods is working to provide fresh protein to help feed Hoosiers in need.
“At Tyson Foods, we have a number of products that either are don’t meet spec for one of our customers but are perfectly good to eat,” said Timothy Grailer, senior director of sustainability operations at Tyson Foods. “We want to make sure that all of that product gets into the communities where it’s needed the most.”
Thousands of pounds of perfectly good chicken, that would’ve otherwise gone to waste, is now being repacked and distributed through Gleaners. A task, that Glass said, is already proving to be efficient.
“A lot of it will be helping our neighbors, right here, in Central Indiana,” said Glass, “but we’ve become such a hub for being able to process this so efficiently, that it will really go to neighbors throughout the Midwest and even beyond.”
In the processing room, Glass said it’s a clean, thorough and USDA compliant operation.
“We have a full-time safety person on staff that makes sure everything is clean,” he said. “We measure for any kind of contaminants. We don’t put anything out the door until those results have come back.”
One of the major components, that helps operations run smooth, is a wrapping machine, which came from the help of Tyson.
“It looks very unassuming, but the magic is that wrapping machine that actually weighs, and puts labels on, and wraps the product that can then be put out for our neighbors,” said Glass.
“With Gleaners, we donated some financial resources in order for them to expand their capacity and make it easier and faster for them to repack that product,” said Grailer.
Glass said it’s an example of what it takes to invest in the mission of helping Hoosiers during times of uncertainty.
“We’re on the front end of the clean room. We’re on the front end of the dry sorting room, the wrapping machine, the various coolers. We have a 35 degree, 45 degree, 55 degree coolers, sub-zero cooler,” Glass said. “We made these investments, but until you start working them, you’re not quite sure how it will all work.”
“Fortunately, this has worked terrifically, and in fact, so successfully, we’re adding a second shift to maximize the investment, and that means more protein for our neighbors in need,” Glass said.