Just as caterers and restaurants are responding to community needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, so, too, are foodservice equipment manufacturers. Sterno Products is doing its part by helping to fulfill the demand for two products that help people stay safe and healthy—face masks and hand sanitizers.
Sterno’s plant in La Porte, Ind., usually manufactures the company’s premium insulated food delivery bags—a product still in high demand, as they help school districts continue serving students who rely on their lunch programs, even while schools aren’t physically in session. Yet Sterno has turned over part of the factory to the manufacture of cloth face masks.
“We heard the demand from the mayor in town [Tom Dermody], who was the former owner of the factory,” says David Amirault, Sterno’s vice president of product development and marketing. “We knew we had to jump in and do the right thing in helping out.”
The skilled sewers employed at the plant have already made more than 3,000 masks, which have been distributed to hospitals in La Porte and the surrounding area. The masks are being used by patients and support staff at the hospitals, freeing up N95 masks for the healthcare workers on the front lines of helping patients with the virus. Amirault says the goal is to make 100,000 masks over the next couple of months, opening up distribution to other markets once the local demand is met.
Meanwhile, a Sterno plant in Memphis that makes such products as Sterno Charcoal Lighter and chafing fuels is gearing up to produce hand sanitizer, starting the week of April 20. “We will be producing an FDA-approved grade of hand sanitizer that will be available nationally,” says Amirault. Aiming to manufacture 5,000 to 10,000 gallons of hand sanitizer a week, Sterno will be selling the in-demand product through its foodservice distribution channels—first focusing on the healthcare market, and then opening up the supply to foodservice customers and other non-healthcare facilities. “We will evolve the line, introducing other bottle sizes and pumps to meet the end-user demands,” says Amirault, adding that the sanitizer will first be available in refill sizes. “We’re going to keep making hand sanitizer as long as it’s needed.”
For more information on Sterno Products, visit sternopro.com