CHARLOTTE, N.C.– On November 3, 2020 Hurricane Eta made landfall in Central America as a powerful Category 4 storm. Just two weeks later Hurricane Iota, a Category 5 storm followed nearly the same path through the region, unleashing heavy rains, winds, massive flooding and severe landslides, causing widespread destruction.
Communities and towns in Honduras and Guatemala – many that support Dole farms and workers – were leveled in the wake. Though Dole was able to successfully evacuate its workers and families prior to the hurricanes’ arrivals, many others were not as fortunate and lost their lives or livelihoods, their possessions and their crops. In the aftermath, water was needed to drink, homes were in need of repair, and clothes, supplies and appliances in need of replacement.
As an organization closely connected to these communities through the banana industry, Dole swiftly moved to lend aid and resources. But not just the company as an entity stepped in, many Dole employees, partners, and public supporters —no matter how far physically from these communities — also contributed their own time and their own funds to help.
In these six months since the hurricanes’ devastation much has been accomplished.
- Dole employees, the company and the public together raised, collected and donated a quarter of a million dollars to purchase food baskets of essential food items — red beans, rice, corn flour, vegetable oil and powdered milk, capable of feeding a family of five for a month. These food baskets were distributed to 10,000 families in-need in communities surrounding our operations and through relief organizations CEPUDO and the Cortés Chamber of Commerce with established distribution networks in other areas.
- The Red Cross of Honduras received donations of dozens of boxes of clothing and footwear contributed by Dole employees in North America and Dole’s Standard Fruit De Honduras. In addition to 500,000 Lempiras ($20,000US) to help those in need and provide support.
- Dole provided use of company machinery and heavy equipment to repair public services, bridges, roads, and highways.
- Dole allocated space on southbound vessels to humanitarian organizations importing and distributing disaster relief goods and equipment.
- With many banana production areas completely destroyed, Dole, as a major employer of choice in the region, has expedited efforts to restore banana plantations to full production. Farm land preparation takes time and is completely tailored to the conditions of each agricultural area, yet returning jobs and paychecks to the areas quickly is critical.
“I cannot sufficiently convey the heartbreaking destruction these communities endured,” said Nelson Montoya President of Dole Fresh Fruit North America. “However, this catastrophe did not defeat them. The compassion, resiliency and camaraderie of all those on our team in Honduras and Guatemala has been inspiring to me. We will continue to invest in getting everyone back on their feet.”
The investment reached a significant milestone in the rehabilitation process in Honduras, with the first planting of new banana fields at Mendez Farm, Barimasa Zone on May 4, followed closely with planting at Copote Farm in the Isletas Zone and most recently the Palo Verde farm in the Coyoles Zone.
As the company works to restore production volumes derived from these devastated areas in Honduras and Guatemala, Dole expects customers will begin receiving Dole premium fruit from these regions in January 2022.
About Dole Food Company
Dole Food Company, Inc., is one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of high-quality fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. Dole is an industry leader in many of the products it sells, as well as in nutrition education. For more information, please visit www.dole.com.