United Airlines has transformed one of its cargo facilities at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Texas, into a food distribution center to aid the Houston Food Bank's efforts to feed families in need during the COVID-19 crisis. The idea to convert the cargo space came from one employee, Mark Zessin, a United baggage team member.
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 pounds of food and household products and volunteered nearly 5,000 hours.
"United and its team members are selflessly stepping up to help their neighbors by adapting their cargo center to be a produce inspecting, sorting and packing operation,” said Brian Greene, president and CEO of the Houston Food Bank. “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 each event. Volunteers will also pick up product at the cargo center to then make safe, no-contact deliveries to reach households that must stay quarantined for their safety and the safety of others. This assistance to serve the most vulnerable population during this pandemic is amazing. United is a dedicated and important partner of the Houston Food Bank, and we will not forget this generosity."
Beyond the distribution centers, United team members across the system have:
- Donated more than 159,000 pounds of food to food banks, hospitals and other organizations from United's catering facilities and Polaris lounges
- Donated 2,800 amenity kits to healthcare workers
- Donated $100k worth of advertising space in London to UNICEF to support its education efforts around COVID-19 and protecting children around the globe
- Operated more than 500 cargo charter flights that have moved over 18.7M lbs 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 COVID-19 pandemic
- Provided free flights for doctors, nurses and medical professionals traveling to New York, New Jersey and California to help battle COVID-19