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Minnesota food producers ensure supply is safe in COVID-19 crisis

Minnesota based Cargill and General Mills say demand for food is up, but they have the capability to keep workers safe and store shelves stocked.

MINNEAPOLIS — As Minnesota hunkers down to fight the coronavirus, there has been an increased demand for food. Minnesota based Cargill says they are up to the task of meeting that demand.

“I think the really important message for people to hear is that there is plenty of food to go around. It’s our job to ensure that, first of all, we produce it but also that we get it to where it needs to be consumed,” said Ruth Kimmelshue, Senior Vice President of Global Operations for Cargill.

Kimmelshue says Cargill’s global footprint means they’ve been dealing with the fallout from COVID-19 for months now, first in Asia then in Europe.

“On the whole we’ve been able to continue to operate without any sickness in our facilities,” she said.

Cargill employs around 160,000 people with 90,000 of those workers in facilities around the world producing animal feed, cutting meat, cracking eggs and other essential roles. Shutting down isn’t an option.

Kimmelshue says they’ve managed to keep employees safe by splitting shifts and staggering schedules to allow for physical distancing and in some cases doing temperature checks when employees arrive at work.

General Mills told KARE 11 they are also seeing an increase in demand especially for cereal, canned soup and other shelf stable products.

They, too, have to keep their people working but with new safety precautions.  And General Mills says they are simplifying operations to produce as much food as efficiently as possible.

Two Minnesota companies and their thousands of employees say they’re committed to feeding the world through a crisis.

“Our key priority first and foremost is the safety of our employees,” said Kimmelshue. “Second to that is ensuring that we can continue to have food supply chains operate as efficiently and effectively as we possibly can.”  

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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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