Initiative Foods will host a job fair Wednesday for more than 100 employees who lost their jobs after a fire destroyed most of the Sanger-based baby food plant.
The fire, which began July 24 around 3 a.m., burned all day, with firefighters still on the scene Monday putting out hotspots. The plant’s management began Monday to plan the job fair and the next steps forward for the company.
“It’s a big family here, and everyone’s been really excited about the community support and the job fair,” spokeswoman Merisha Toranno said Tuesday.
The list of companies and staffing agencies planning to participate in the job fair includes: Lyons Magnus, Pacific Choice, Ready Roast Nut, Wawona Frozen Foods, Exact Staff, Full Steam Staffing, Pride Staff and AppleOne.
Pairing food workers with other companies that produce food makes the employees more valuable for those types of businesses, Toranno said. Even so, she said the job fair is open to anyone.
Toranno said the announcement of a job fair brought tears and applause from the displaced employees.
Work has been divided between coordinating the job fair and cleaning up the site, Toranno said. People have been working long hours cleaning and calling any companies for representatives at the job fair. She said even John Ypma, the owner of Initiative Foods, and his family were calling various companies for support.
Ypma’s daughter, Caroyln Ypma, took time off work as a safety and environmental manager at Coca-Cola in the Bay Area to help her family. She created a GoFundMe page that has since been shared almost 1,000 times and 88 people have raised almost $12,000 toward its $200,000 goal.
She said ministers and teachers have volunteered to use their networks to gather any support they can for the employees. A local Sanger Walmart started a school supplies and food drive at its location to benefit the affected families.
As for the mood of the employees, Carolyn Ypma said it was positive overall.
“I think that they’re very understanding, it’s a good group of people,” she said. “They’re sad to walk away from Initiative. They seem very thankful to be here and have been extremely supportive.”
If you go
Initiative Foods is hosting a job fair for workers displaced by the weekend fire that destroyed the company’s production plant in Sanger.
Who: 20 food companies and staffing agencies, including Lyons Magnus, Pacific Choice, Ready Roast Nut, Wawona Frozen Foods, Exact Staff, Full Steam Staffing, Pride Staff and AppleOne.
Where: Initiative Foods warehouse at 1913 Industrial Way in Sanger
When: 8:30 a.m. Wednesday
How to help: The company has set up a GoFundMe account, titled Initiative Foods Fire Fund.