“Making a difference” might be the best description of what Mountaire Farms does. Founded in 1914, the fifth-generation family-owned chicken processing company has a long history of helping its communities thrive.
Mountaire Cares: Through its Mountaire Cares program, the company’s employees are committed to changing lives for the better.
- “The Mountaire Cares program was created to fulfill three main core pillars: how are we faithful to our people, how are we faithful to our communities and how can we look to be faithful to the future,” said Mountaire Cares Director JR LaPearl.
Meals for thousands: One of Mountaire Farms’ biggest events during the year is its Meals for Thousands program, where the company partners with local churches, food banks and nonprofit organizations to provide meals for families in need at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- The program had humble beginnings 28 years ago, with Roger Marino, who was PR and community relations director at Mountaire, leading the group to provide 300 meal boxes at Thanksgiving. The company has distributed more than 1 million boxes since then.
- For this year’s Easter event, the company’s employees and other volunteers packed 15,000 meal boxes, each of which contained a Mountaire roaster chicken; vegetables; macaroni and cheese; mashed potatoes and gravy; and brownies—enough food to feed a family of four.
- “Our employees really enjoy being a part of this effort to give back to the community,” LaPearl said. “What I love about these events is that they bring people together to share love and kindness to one another.”
Feeding all year long: But hunger doesn’t just exist during holidays. Mountaire Farms donates chicken to local food pantries every month so they can help fill the need all year long. And they partner with groups like nonprofit organizations, little leagues, fire companies and more that use chicken to help fundraise during the year.
And that’s not all . . . Mountaire’s food programs are just one way the company gives back. It has partnered with Habitat for Humanity and several Boys & Girls Clubs on service projects, while also collaborating with local schools on renovations of playgrounds and basketball courts.
Why they do it: For LaPearl, it all starts with the company’s mantra “High Performance for a Higher Purpose,” striving to be a positive light to those around them.
- “Our people are the reason we’re able to do what we do and give back,” said LaPearl. “If it’s not volunteering, it’s the everyday work that we do that really helps to feed families here locally, around the region and around the world. It’s interesting when our employees are upset they were unable to volunteer on a particular day. I remind them that what you’re doing on a daily basis is making a major impact in the lives of people that you don’t even know because of your hard work and performance.”
- “When I have the opportunity to visit our processing plants and I see people smiling, singing in their respective cultural languages and just enjoying their job, that speaks volumes in today’s culture. I can tell they love being here. That’s the way we’re built.”
Mountaire cares about its employees: Through Mountaire Cares, the company offers leadership classes to help employees succeed in their roles and advance in their careers. It also provides scholarships to children and grandchildren of employees.
- In addition, the company built medical facilities at each of its processing plants, and recently established a chaplaincy program that offers employees guidance in times of crisis and high stress.
The last word: LaPearl has some advice for manufacturers who may want to start a program similar to Mountaire’s:
- “Clearly understand your strengths as a company and create an exceptional foundation to build off that. We weren’t able to do all of this overnight, so start small and really focus the first few years on going slow and being purposeful. And always show your employees you care.”