By Jeff Hardin
Special to Poultry Times
CHICAGO — In recent weeks, millions of Americans were impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. A lot of people came together in a time of terrible crisis and enormous need. I want to share my experience working with those people on the relief efforts in Texas.
I arrived at the Montgomery Fairgrounds in Conroe about 30 miles north of the flooding on Labor Day weekend where our partners at Tyson Foods had established a base for their relief operations.
To witness firsthand the aftermath and the response to something like Hurricane Harvey in Texas will take your breath away. Driving into the affected area you cannot imagine the sheer scale of the devastation. We’re talking about hundreds of miles of destruction.
There’s a tremendous need for food in disasters like this. And egg farmers feed people. We had a couple of our members come forward right away, and within days we were receiving product and getting it into the hands of people who needed it. These people have lost nearly everything, and yet they’re so thankful for a simple meal.
Conditions early in a disaster situation like this make it impossible to manage fresh eggs in the shell, but very quickly we found a way to get eggs to people. Whether it was scrambled eggs in a bag, hard-boiled eggs, liquid eggs, or protein packs, we distributed more than 27 pallets of product at last count.
There are so many people to thank here that I can’t possibly do them justice, but on behalf of the American Egg Board I’d like to thank our egg producers, our partners at Tyson Foods’ Meals that Matter® disaster relief program, our allied industries, and, at the local level, the Texas Egg Council and the Poultry Science Department at Texas A&M.
Lastly, thank you to those individuals who provided vehicles, who loaded and unloaded trucks, who delivered product — everyone who suited up and showed up. At the end of the day, this effort was entirely about people.
There’s more to do, of course. Those affected by Hurricane Harvey have a long road of recovery ahead, and our attention has now also turned to those who were caught in Irma’s path. There will be long-term needs and immediate ones. I think one of the lessons we learned from Harvey is that we can really be impactful as an industry in the short term.
In closing, we hope and pray that a catastrophe like this never happens again, but when it does there will be an opportunity for all of us to help.
Jeff Hardin, vice president of sales for Cal-Maine Foods, is chairman of the American Egg Board with offices in Chicago, Ill.