The Casino Food Co-op provided critical assistance to residents and businesses in the Northern Rivers region of NSW during the February floods.
The meat processing plant itself wasn’t affected, putting it in a prime position to become a major hub for the recovery effort.
The Casino Food Co-op CEO Simon Stahl said, “We had offered to store 20 pallets of fruit and vegetables for a local business in Lismore (evacuated from their premises). We worked side-by-side with the Australian Defence Force, which was able to land their helicopters in our top carpark to collect food hampers ready to be dropped to the many isolated communities.”
“The meat processors employees all lent a hand to pack food hampers for the food drops. “We’re good at fresh meat production and we had to learn quickly about pulling together fruit, vegetables and other groceries into hampers to help feed everyone.”
Food hampers were delivered to 15 locations across the Northern Rivers through 20 helicopter drops, feeding more than 4000 isolated people.
Simon said, “We were best placed to respond due to our large workforce, onsite assets and experienced and dedicated employees. Our logistics people turned our car park into an airfield and managed the entire operation. Our cold store facility is an amazing asset for the community in times of need. And of course, we had power.”
“Our employees played a vital role. The distribution required local knowledge which was critical.
“This disaster highlighted how important it is for industry and emergency services to come together for the good of the community. We have the logistics, assets and heavy equipment that could significantly contribute to recovery efforts.”
“We have always been part of the community. We are proud of what we do to feed the world. We are proud of our strong support and participation in local communities. Most meat processors are based in rural regions of Australia. Many of these regions don’t have access to the emergency services that our big cities do.
The Casino Food Co-op closed its meat processing operations for an entire week.
Simon said, “The benefit to the community far outweighs the financial implications for the business. We donated meat for volunteer groups and for the workers in Lismore and Casino, as well as providing fuel and all the PPE for our employees to go out into the community to assist with the clean-up of houses and businesses. We were also fortunate to have our qualified electricians provide service to some houses.”
The Casino Food Co-op also co-ordinated an emergency fodder drop across the Northern Rivers to ensure local producers were able to feed isolated livestock. Read more on their website.