Fresh Harvest Sets Food Safety Standards for the Industry
HEBER, CA - As we continue to navigate through the coronavirus pandemic, it goes without saying that our industry is a vital part of daily living. In order for essential, fresh produce to be brought to market, many businesses have shifted their focus and have implemented new safety procedures with their workers as an even higher priority. To find out about how industry leaders are keeping their workers top of mind, I recently got in touch with Fresh Harvest’s Matt Scaroni and Steve Scaroni to learn more about their company investments and strong adaptability.
“Our employees play a vital role in the success of our operations. That’s why our policy has always been to create a safe workplace. We provide every opportunity for them to be successful so they will keep coming back to work for our company year after year,” Matt, Vice President of Production, tells me. “The COVID-19 crisis has made us rise to a new level of safety protocols that not only address our employees’ health but the communities we work in. We like to say our company is setting the standard—the standard for not only providing value and efficiency to our customers, but also setting the standard for caring for our employees in the workplace.”
To help workers coming to the U.S. for the first time, Fresh Harvest begins assisting new employees with thorough education and care when they arrive.
A team of chaplains help incoming farmworkers by counseling, mentoring, and attending to employees’ needs as they face the demands of being an essential worker.
“We begin our protocol training while they are at the consulate getting their visas to educate them about the virus and how to protect themselves,” Steve, Founder, explains. “It’s a culture shock without this crisis. Now, all the added protocols intensify the transition in their lives. It can be very challenging! Our chaplains have been on staff for several years and have developed personal relationships and a level of trust with all classes of our employees. From H-2A and domestic farmworkers in the field to our truck drivers, mechanics, and professional staff, they are here to help, offer encouragement when needed, and assist with any issues that arise as a result of the demands of being an essential worker.”
Along with enforcing stricter protocols, Fresh Harvest has invested in its own production line as well to keep workers safe. David Scaroni, Vice President of Operations, and his team worked together to install vinyl screens between workers while working alongside machinery. Other implementations include installing 11 thermal imaging body temperature sensors to monitor employees twice a day, increasing sanitation routines, and educating employees on proper safety and health guidelines.
“We have brought in over 2,000 H-2A guest workers since January 1 of this year, making up roughly 30 percent of the farm workforce today. These are essential workers who are irreplaceable. They are also our largest risk profile and must receive a majority of our attention,” Steve continues. “However, just as important as the thousands of workers that we employ in the fields, we have a large number of professional, administrative, accounting, and maintenance staff that help make the wheels of our company turn.”
With movers and shakers like Fresh Harvest at the forefront, our industry becomes that much safer. ANUK will continue reporting developments and updates from our fresh community, so stay tuned.