CLARIFICATION: Campbell Soup Co. clarified the funding amounts to the Downtown Food Pantry and North Texas Food Bank. The story is updated.
Campbell Soup Co. is ramping up efforts to lend a hand in its 33 hometowns, including Paris, as part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
First, CEO Mark Clouse announced premium employee pay for at least the next five weeks starting today. Hourly employee pay is going up $2 an hour while others will get an extra $100 per week for reporting to work while pandemic response measures are in place. The company is also looking to hire to meet the increased demand for its products. Information is available at careers.campbellsoupcompany.com/us/en/our-manufacturing-distribution-centers.
Now, Campbell’s is donating $1 million in cash and food to food banks and pantries in towns where it operates. That includes giving a $10,000 product donation to the North Texas Food Bank and $37,500 in financial and food assistance to the Downtown Food Pantry in Paris, and it’s help the local nonprofit is thankful to receive.
“Campbell’s proves year after year to the Paris area that they’re for us. And now in a time of great need not only are they one of our county’s largest employers, but they’re also investing profits in a community-minded way by making an additional emergency grant to us. We couldn’t be more thankful,” pantry executive director Allan Hubbard said.
Help also is going to the North Texas Food Bank, which provides the Downtown Food Pantry the food it gives to local families. The food bank provides for 13 counties in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s North Texas Region, and Lamar County experiences the highest rate of food insecurity in the region, Hubbard has said.
The Downtown Food Pantry in 2019 gave out more than 2.6 million pounds of food to 25% of Lamar County’s population, Hubbard said. That’s up from 2.2 million pounds in 2018.
“We’ve seen an increase in new clients and returning clients who have not been here in a long time. We’re glad to be able to help,” Hubbard said Saturday.
“The increased need for shelf-stable food has been a consistent request from food banks in the wake of this pandemic. We’ll continue to work with them to determine which products are most needed and dedicate production runs to meet their needs,” said Kim Fortunato, vice president of Community Affairs and president of The Campbell Soup Foundation.
Campbell officials said the funding is critically important as food-providing organizations work to quickly shift the way they operate from direct feeding to mobile pantries, meal delivery and other approaches dictated by the crisis. The Downtown Food Pantry has nixed gatherings in its waiting rooms, which means clients are in line outside longer than usual before they can enter to get groceries. Clients are spaced at least 6 feet apart, per social distancing protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they must apply hand sanitizer before entering, Hubbard said.
The Downtown Food Pantry is always seeking volunteers, and it could use extra helping hands during the pandemic because a significant number of regulars are older and in the higher susceptibility category, Hubbard said. A dozen or more new volunteers in lower-risk age groups have stepped up, and more are needed, he said.
On Mondays and Wednesdays, volunteers bag produce for about an hour and a half. Tuesdays and Thursdays are distribution days. To learn how to help, call the Downtown Food Pantry at 903-737-8870.