Southern Valley prides itself on keeping their workforce happy, healthy, and safe amid COVID

Protecting the workforce from COVID-19 is essential to operate, which is why Southern Valley Fruits and Vegetables is determined to keep their H-2A workers safe and healthy.

“We rely heavily on our H-2A workers because of the seasonality of it and the sheer volume of people we need to get that crop planted, get it harvested and get it cleaned up,” said to John Schwalls, one of the executive officers of Southern Valley Fruits and Vegetables.

Due to their dependency on H-2A workers, when COVID-19 presented itself in early March, they had to scramble to try and protect their workforce.

“What we were trying to do was to keep our workforce protected, safe, and healthy. We didn’t know what type of immunities would be needed... a lot of them hadn’t had immunizations, the way that we had growing up,” Schwalls said. “We wanted to mitigate their risk and to protect their health.”

Once they knew more, they adapted their facilities and operation: temperature checks, health questionnaires, quarantining those who showed symptoms, and bringing in supplies to limit exposure.

“We realized if we’re going to do this, we have to create an environment for them where they’re able to get everything they need, and they don’t have to go out and they don’t have to worry about becoming sick, or somebody else getting sick and coming in and getting them sick,” Schwalls said.

These efforts were extremely important to Southern Valley, because they depend on their workforce for not only this season but also the next one.

“It’s very important to us to keep our employees healthy, happy, and wanting to return. In turn of that, they want to return they’ll do a good job.”

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