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Foster Farms Provides COVID-19 Vaccinations to Employees at Fresno Processing Facility

Company partners with the Fresno Department of Public Health and Vons Pharmacy to vaccinate 1,000 essential workers at its Cherry Avenue facility this week.

FRESNO, CALIFORNIA – West Coast poultry leader, Foster Farms, is committed to the health and welfare of its employees. Starting today, the company will provide the Moderna vaccine to 1,000 employees at its Fresno, California, Cherry Avenue poultry facility. In partnership with Fresno County’s Public Health Department and Vons Pharmacy, this vaccination program marks the first large scale effort to vaccinate a workforce at a major food processing facility in Fresno County. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Foster Farms has implemented a comprehensive set of employee health protections and mitigations in adherence with CDC guidance, and implemented one of the most extensive COVID-19 employee testing programs in California, administering more than 100,000 COVID-19 tests in the last 5 months. While these steps are effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, vaccination provides the greatest form of worker protection. Foster Farms hopes this program will serve as a model for vaccination at other company facilities and for the entire California food processing industry.

Along with healthcare workers, and adults over 65, Fresno County and the Fresno Department of Public Health have prioritized the vaccination of agricultural workers, recognizing the essential role they play in bringing food to millions of California families. Foster Farms and the Fresno Department of Public Health have worked together closely in the interest of employee health and welfare since the onset of the pandemic. The Cherry Avenue processing plant vaccination program is the result of that collaboration.

“We greatly value the commitment and professionalism of the Fresno Department of Public Health,” said Ira Brill, Foster Farms Vice President Communications. “We have fully aligned our resources to ensure the program is successfully carried out for the benefit of our employees and the community. This includes partnering with Vons Pharmacy, tapping into their expertise to oversee administration of the vaccine.”

“The Fresno County Department of Public Health is pleased to work with Foster Farms on this pilot project to learn how large employers can implement vaccination clinics at their worksite including learning communication strategies, understanding vaccine uptake, administering doses in different workplace settings, and providing safety protocols. We want to design a scalable model for vaccination clinics that can be used by other employers,” said David Pomaville, FCDPH Director.

Vaccination at the Cherry Avenue facility is voluntary and will be offered on site, at no cost to Foster Farms employees. Foster Farms will compensate employees for time spent during the vaccination process. Foster Farms has engaged in a multilingual employee communication program to answer questions about vaccination. The company expects that most of the 1,000 employees at the Cherry facility will participate.

The Moderna vaccine is administered in two doses. Foster Farms expects to complete administering the first dose of the vaccination at the Cherry facility on February 5 and plans to administer the second dose in early March. Foster Farms will track employee participation in the vaccination program to ensure that dosage periodicity requirements are met. The Moderna vaccine will be administered on site by trained staff of Vons Pharmaceutical under the supervision of a registered nurse. Vons Pharmacy is certified as a COVID-19 vaccine provider by the state of California and Fresno County and thus far has administered over 10,000 doses.

“Throughout the pandemic, the communities we serve have trusted our pharmacy teams to play a critical role in maintaining their health and wellness,” said Narayanan Ramachandran, Director of Pharmacy for Vons. “We are proud to partner with Foster Farms working in close coordination with the Fresno County Public Health Department to administer the vaccine safely and efficiently.”

Foster Farms is actively working with public health authorities and elected officials in Merced and Stanislaus County to initiate similar vaccination programs at local facilities. The company hopes that the Fresno program can serve as a model for what collaborative public and private partnerships can achieve.

Foster Farms joins the Fresno Department of Public Health in reiterating that vaccination is not a substitute for the continued need to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and observe all other protocols necessary to defeat COVID-19. For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit www.fcdph.org/covid19vax.

COVID-19 represents an unprecedented challenge to all who live and work in California. The COVID-19 vaccination is the most important tool available to overcoming the disease. We look to our leaders in government and public health to ensure that vaccination is widely available as soon as possible, and we know they are making their best efforts to do so. Foster Farms’ Cherry Avenue vaccination program is an example of what can be accomplished when government, public health, and the private sector work collaboratively to the betterment of those who continue to work so hard to keep food on our tables.

About Foster Farms

Since 1939, West Coast families have depended on Foster Farms for premium quality chicken and turkey products. Family-owned and operated, the company continues its legacy of excellence and commitment to quality established by its founders, Max and Verda Foster. Foster Farms specializes in fresh, all-natural chicken and turkey products free of preservatives, additives or injected sodium enhancers. Foster Farms is based in Livingston in California’s Central Valley with facilities in California, Oregon, Washington, Arkansas and Louisiana. The company’s commitment to excellence, honesty, quality, service and people is a source of great pride, and a longtime family tradition.

Food safety is Foster Farms' highest priority, and the company would like to remind consumers to always follow safe handling, preparation and storage guidelines for the preparation of fresh poultry products. All fresh poultry products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit as measured by a meat thermometer to ensure safety. Visit www.fosterfarms.com to learn more.

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EDITOR’S NOTE:

  • To schedule an interview with the Fresno County Department of Public Health, please contact Public Health Communications at (559) 974-2302 or (559) 259-1798
  • For an interview with a Vons Pharmacy representative, please contact Wendy Gutshall at gutshall@safeway.com

In addition to the current vaccination programs on site at Foster Farms’ Fresno Cherry Avenue facility, the company has the following COVID-19 mitigations in place. In consultation with local health departments and following CDC guidelines, Foster Farms has adopted a three-step multi-hurdle approach to controlling COVID-19:

  • Screening to prevent symptomatic employees from entering facilities, utilizing wellness and temperature checks.
  • Implementation of mitigations following CDC guidance and additional review with county health department. Mitigations include mandatory wearing of face coverings, addition of partitions to workstations where social distancing opportunities are limited, daily USDA reviewed plant sanitation, and continuous sanitation of shared common spaces, staggering of worker breaks and expansion of break areas. Most recently the company has reviewed ventilation at its processing facilities and is installing HEPA portable filters in common shared areas.
  • Continuous weekly testing of employees at all major processing facilities, to remove asymptomatic workers – those showing no signs of illness – curtailing potential COVID-19 spread. Our testing is graduated based on ongoing review of change in county prevalence levels, and most recent test results, with the capability to rapidly expand from sample-based Surveillance testing to Aggressive twice weekly testing of the entire plant workforce. We believe that until a vaccine is widely available, identifying and removing asymptomatic workers through proactive testing is the surest way to further protect workers free of the virus.