The new line, which will be capable of producing up to 45,000 masks per day, will become operational in a month's time, the Kisses chocolate maker said.
“Supporting our communities in difficult times is part of our legacy, and an important value that our current employees share,” said Michele Buck, Hershey president and CEO.
“From the building projects that created local jobs during the Great Depression, to producing military rations during World War II, we take great pride in making a difference where we can.”
Leveraging its internal engineering capabilities, and its relationships with equipment manufacturer JR Automation and General Motors, who is making similar masks, the company said it is moving quickly to address the shortage of protective equipment in the United States.
“Disposable masks will be an integral piece of protecting the health and safety of our employees, their families and our community as we move forward over the weeks and months ahead,” said Jason Reiman, the company’s chief supply chain officer.
“Changing how we work, and adding this capability is a testament to the adaptability of our team, and our desire to make a difference.”
Converting operations to address a critical need is the latest step in the company’s ongoing efforts to support communities during the COVID-19 outbreak. To date, it claims to have donated millions in cash and product to benefit community safety net organizations and a variety of healthcare organizations, while simultaneously supporting employee safety and wellbeing.
Cocoa growing communities
Hershey has also joined other major chocolate companies who have collectively donated hundreds of millions to support international relief agencies in delivering COVID-19 education and protection in cocoa growing communities.
“Caring for communities is not about taking any single action,” said Buck. “It’s a combination of many people taking many actions from a place of shared values and a sense of responsibility for one another. It’s one of the many things I cherish about leading the remarkable women and men of The Hershey Company.”