United Airlines has converted one of its cargo facilities at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, USA into a food distribution centre to aid the Houston Food Bank’s efforts to feed families in need during the Covid-19 crisis.
According to the airline, the idea to convert the cargo space came from one employee, Mark Zessin, a United baggage team member who is now leading a team of employee volunteers at the facility.
“We take great pride in having employees throughout the United network who are always looking for ways to make every action count, even in these extremely trying times,” said Sharon Grant, vice president of global community engagement at United. “This is a great example of the power in working together with our nonprofit partners on addressing their challenges and creating unique solutions to ensure the community is served.”
Beyond the distribution centres, United team members across the system are finding ways to support Covid-19 first responders and those impacted by the virus. To date, United has:
- Donated more than 159,000 lbs of food to food banks, hospitals and other organisations from United’s catering facilities and Polaris lounges
- Donated 2,800 amenity kits to healthcare workers on the frontlines providing aid
- Donated US$100k worth of advertising space in London to UNICEF to support its education efforts around Covid-19 and protecting children around the world
- Operated more than 355 cargo charter flights that have moved over 5.6 million kgs of cargo (including PPE, medical equipment, mail and other general cargo)
- Operated nearly 100 repatriation flights returning nearly 17,000 people home who were stranded abroad due to the pandemic
- Provided free flights for doctors, nurses and medical professionals travelling to New York, New Jersey and California to help battle Covid-19
Employee volunteers in Houston are receiving, packing, sorting and distributing food and other items to families in need. To date, employees have sorted and bagged nearly 160,000 lbs of food and household products and volunteered nearly 5,000 hours.
Brian Greene, president and CEO of the Houston Food Bank said that United is stepping up to help their neighbours by adapting their cargo centre to be a produce inspecting, sorting and packing operation.
“Much of this food will be used at our new large-scale distribution model called ‘Neighborhood Super Site’ which expect to see 3,000 to 5,000 vehicles at each event. Volunteers will also pick up product at the cargo centre to then make safe, no-contact deliveries to reach households that must stay quarantined for their safety and the safety of others,” he said.