Kraft is ‘good fit for the community’July 19, 2016
COSHOCTON – When the inaugural Appalachian Bacon Nation festival came to town in 2014, it attracted locals and out-of-town visitors to check out the unique event and indulge a favorite food. Organizers used the opportunity as a way to showcase what it means to the community to have Kraft in Coshocton.
In turn, Kraft employees were eager to help, and the company provided seed money to get the first festival up and running – and, of course, a generous helping of bacon.
“It was exciting. We were happy to be a part of that,” said Kurt Bain, plant manager of the Kraft Heinz plant in Coshocton. The name changed from the Kraft Foods Group after the 2015 merger with the H.J. Heinz Holding Corp.
The local Kraft plant brought the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile to Coshocton for the festivities, and donated a pallet of bacon totaling 1,920 pounds to the event. It was a generous donation that will be repeated by the company when Appalachian Bacon Nation returns to Coshocton in September, Bain said.
The festival is a “good fit for the community,” he continued, because the Coshocton plant is the location for the company’s consolidated bacon production of Oscar Mayer bacon, with the exception of turkey bacon.
“I think it (the festival) does a lot for the community. Our employees were excited to have a festival that featured bacon.”
Human Resources manager Amber Criner agreed.
“I think it’s important that we are participating in events in the community,” Criner said. “Most of our employees live in Coshocton, and we feel it’s important to support events that are important to them.”
Supporting the Appalachian Bacon Nation festival is only a small part of all that Kraft does to give back to the community where it has had a presence for more than three decades.
Bain explained the history of the company in Coshocton. It started in 1983 when Kraft purchased the plant at 1660 S. Second St. Production began a year later with about 180 employees and three production lines.
The local plant has expanded several times over the years. In 1995, Bain said, a fourth production line was added and the company then employed 300 workers. In 2007, a buffer warehouse and a fifth production line was added.
The largest expansion is still ongoing, Bain said of the recent expansion that increased production to seven lines.
“We are happy to be here in Coshocton. It’s been a good partnership and a good relationship,” he said.
The dedicated employees have also contributed to the growth and longevity of the company in Coshocton, he continued.
With approximately 650 employees, Kraft is now the largest employer in Coshocton County, said Dorothy Skowrunski, director of the Coshocton County Port Authority. “These are good paying jobs that Kraft has created here. That’s a huge investment for our economy and our community,” she said.
In addition to providing employment opportunities in Coshocton, Kraft is also engaged in the community, Showrunski said. In addition to other causes, Kraft donates to the annual Coshocton County Chamber of Commerce auction, and Bain has been on the Port Authority board since 2014.
Kraft also supports local fundraisers and is a big supporter of the local United Way. “I think the United Way has a full understanding of what the needs are in the community. It’s an effective way to distribute our dollars,” Bain said.
Criner said employees are enthusiastic about supporting a variety of causes. Employees can purchase Kraft items and allocate a portion to be donated to area food pantries. They can also purchase hot dogs at a discount for charitable causes, such as fundraisers, sports events and scouting activities.
“It’s a way the employees can personalize what’s important to them,” she said.
Kraft is also passionate about helping to prevent hunger around the world, Bain said, and the company does it’s part on the local level to make a difference.
Kraft supports local 4-H clubs and the Coshocton County Junior Fair Board by purchasing animals each year at the Coshocton County Fair, and donating them to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry organization that feeds the hungry in the community. It’s a way to support two causes at once, Bain explained.
“I feel really good about that program. Our employees are proud of their kids in 4-H, and we try to support that as best we can. It also helps fulfill Kraft’s obligation to give to the hungry.”
Whatever the cause and whatever the donation, supporting causes that are important to the community is also important to Kraft.
“I think it’s important as one of the major employers of Coschoton County that we are good stewards, and have a good relationship with the community,” Bain said.
From The Coshocton Tribune | July 19, 2016