CH@T: Mountaire Farms’ holiday program nearly doubling in size

Will provide 5,000 boxes of food in Chatham on Nov. 13

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Mountaire Farms’ “Thanksgiving for Thousands” program started a quarter century ago, and its effort in Chatham County this year is expanding. This week, we speak with Sasha Duncan, Mountaire’s community relations manager, about the effort.

Duncan, a Raleigh native, began working for Mountaire this summer. After launching her career in the political realm, she was excited to make the transition to the poultry industry and help promote Mountaire Farms in the Chatham County community.

Can you give us a bit of a history lesson on Mountaire’s “Thanksgiving for Thousands” program?

Our Thanksgiving for Thousands program started more than 25 years ago with a local church who ran out of room to feed people at Thanksgiving. They reached out to us and we worked together to provide families a complete meal to take home and cook at Thanksgiving. Since then, it’s been growing in all the communities where we do business. In fact, we’ve expanded it to Christmas and Easter, and we’re excited to bring that to families in Siler City for the first time this year at those holidays too. It’s really become our signature event as part of our Mountaire Cares program, and we look forward to it every year.

For these events, Mountaire Farms partners with local churches, food banks and other organizations to provide families a complete ready-to-cook Thanksgiving feast, and just in time for the holidays. We rely on these organizations to determine who might need help every year, and we know with the pandemic, more people need help than ever before.

How will Siler City’s “Thanksgiving for Thousands” event be different this year?

It will be different because we’re almost doubling the number of boxes we’re giving away.

This year, Mountaire Farms will be distributing over 5,000 boxes to more than 70 organizations in the Chatham County community on Saturday, Nov. 13, in the employee parking lot of the Siler City processing plant. There are no walk-ups — groups are pre-registered in advance. But we’re excited to be able to help so many more families this year.

Let’s talk about numbers: you’ll provide 5,000 boxes to those in need. What’s in the food boxes, and what resources are you dedicating to putting those together?

Our employees really enjoy the opportunity to give back and we work together like a well-oiled machine to organize, sort, pack, and distribute these boxes on the big day. We will have a tent set up in our employee parking lot and pallets of supplies ready to go the night before. On the morning of the event, we’ll all be up early to ensure we get it all done just as vehicles are showing up to pic up their allotted amount of boxes.

This year, we’re excited to partner with the Piggly Wiggly in Siler City and purchase our canned and boxed goods locally. Each Thanksgiving for Thousands box contains a plump Mountaire Farms roaster chicken, green beans, yams, corn, cranberries, gravy, stuffing and brownies. Blake Evans and his team at Piggly Wiggly have been phenomenal to work with and were excited to work with Mountaire Farms to bless those in our community with a complete holiday meal.

Mountaire is expanding the program to Christmas and Easter — what can you share about that?

As we’ve grown our presence in Siler City, we’ve also grown our Mountaire Cares program. We work with a number of local organizations to give back, not just at the holidays, but year-round. We know food insecurity isn’t just a holiday thing. But we also know that the holidays are when families gather, and we want to ensure that a healthy, nutritious meal is part of that. So for the first time, we’re going to be packing complete meal boxes at Christmas and Easter too.

The towns, counties, and states where we live and work are an integral part of who we are and we’re committed to being good neighbors. Through our volunteer and outreach efforts, we try and make a real difference in our communities.

Christmas is quickly approaching, and Mountaire Farms is excited to open up our “Christmas for Thousands” request form in the coming weeks, and then again in the spring for our Easter event. These programs will be just like Thanksgiving for Thousands and we’re looking forward to working with even more organizations.

Which nonprofits, churches and food banks are integral to the project?

All of the churches, food banks and organizations are integral to our Thanksgiving for Thousands program. Each one of them serves a different community of their own and allows us to have a positive impact on even more people. This year, we’ve partnered with some unexpected organizations including NCWorks, N.C. Cooperative Extension, Jordan-Matthews High School, Silk Hope School, and more that might not be the first ones that come to mind. Our list has grown to over 70 organizations and we’re excited to see that list continue to grow year after year in the Chatham County community.

In what other ways is Mountaire working to be a part of the Chatham County community and add value to it?

Mountaire Farms was a part of this community even before our processing plant opened in 2019. We also own two hatcheries in town and during our plant construction we made sure to become involved in the community. Over the past few years, the list of organizations that we’ve worked with has exponentially grown and will continue to do so.

Since my start in June, Mountaire Farms has sponsored many new events and become even more involved in our community. It’s been great to see participation from employees in the community as well. I’m always looking for events that our employees can attend and see for themselves the impact that their work has on the community.

One of my favorite community service opportunities that we’ve done a few times is to volunteer with the Chatham County Chuckwagon. Mountaire Farms donates cases of chicken to this organization every other week and once a month on Tuesday night, our employees help distribute the pre-cooked vacuum sealed meals to those in need. We all want to feel good about what we do, so volunteering where we get to see the impact firsthand is so meaningful to our team.

What I personally enjoy about my job is that I get to be a part of so many great projects to give back. Mountaire has a long history of charitable giving and I’m excited to be a part of that. With 1,800 employees in Siler City, we can always find a few volunteers willing to pitch in and help.

Editor’s note: Mountaire Farms and a number of other business have strongly supported the News + Record’s La Voz de Chatham project. The newspaper is grateful for that support, which allows us to report on the impact of COVID-19 and provide critical news and information to the area’s Latinx population.


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