Conagra, Kroger Among Food Sector Companies Providing Pandemic Bonus Pay to Workers

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Conagra Brands announced on May 18 that it is providing an additional $7 million in cash bonuses to eligible employees at each of its 50 production and distribution facilities across the United States, Mexico and Canada. The extra pay is in recognition of workers’ commitment to make the company’s extensive line of products – among them Birds Eye frozen vegetables, Gardein meat-free protein dishes, and Marie Callender’s, Banquet and Healthy Choice ready meals – available to consumers during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. To date, the company has committed more than $13 million in special bonuses for front-line employees.

“On behalf of the senior management team, I’d like to extend my deepest appreciation and thanks to our employees for their refuse-to-lose attitude in continuing to work safely and effectively to deliver our products to customers, consumers and our communities during this unprecedented time,” said Sean Connolly, president and chief executive officer at Chicago, Illinois-headquartered Conagra Brands. “Over the past two months, our production and distribution facility teams have done a tremendous job to make and deliver food that millions of people need.”

Since the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) began wreaking havoc in North America, Conagra has implemented additional preventative measures beyond its existing health and safety procedures to help reduce the spread of the deadly contagion.

In addition, the company is continuing to pay any employee who needs to be away from work due to a Covid-19-related production suspension or illness.

Retailers Also Paying Bonuses

Bonus payments have been made by retail supermarket operators as well as food production companies, as a means of rewarding employees who have kept food supply pipelines flowing during the health crisis.

Cincinnati, Ohio-headquartered Kroger, for example, had been providing $2 per hour “hero pay” bonus to workers on the job at grocery stores during the pandemic through May 17. Thereafter, as regular pay rates are reinstituted, full-time employees are to receive one-time “Thank You Pay” bonus payments of $400, while part-timers are to get $200. The package will reportedly cost Kroger up to $130 million.

“Our associates have been instrumental in feeding America while also helping to flatten the curve during the initial phases of the pandemic. To recognize and thank them for their incredible work during this historic time, we offered special pay in March, April and May,” said Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen. “As the country moves toward reopening, we will continue to safeguard our associates’ health and well-being and recognize their work. At the same time, we will continue running a sustainable business that provides steady employment and opportunities to learn and grow for over half a million associates.”