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GR food plant responds to allegations it illegally employs migrant children

Hearthside Food Solutions machinery
Hearthside Food Solutions
Hearthside Food Solutions respond to allegations it employs migrant children

Hearthside Food Solutions came under fire, after an investigation by the New York Times claimed multiple, underage migrant workers were employed at the company's Grand Rapids-based plant. Hearthside will be conducting an independent review over protocols and staffing agency partners.

A New York Times article alleges the Hearthside Food Solutions plant in Grand Rapids is staffing underage migrant workers in dangerous work conditions.

Hearthside Food Solutions is a contracted food industry manufacturer, with production facilities that churn out name brands like Cheerios and Cheetos. Over the weekend, the New York Times published an investigation into a new economy of exploitation, which looks at Hearthside’s Grand Rapids plants, along with other organizations. The article shares experiences of migrant children who come to the United States without their parents and who are challenged with the most punishing jobs in the country – despite child labor laws.

The story features underage workers across the U.S. Among them is a 15-year-old girl who was working at a Hearthside Grand Rapids plant after coming to the U.S. alone from Guatemala. The Times reports, she felt sick and tired after a week of 17-hour workdays with hazardous equipment. Other stories surrounding Grand Rapids’ Hearthside workers included kids dropping out of school to make ends meet or feeling harassed at work.

Hearthside has released astatement responding to the multiple underage workers cited in the article. CEO Darlene Acosia said the company is “appalled” by the allegations, adding that its heart breaks for the young people in the story. While the company defends its safety and employment practices, Acosia says Hearthside enlists staffing agencies across the country to bring in talent. Hearthside will be conducting an independent review over protocols and staffing agency partners.

"The claims in this article don't match our values or how we do business. We hold ourselves and partners to high ethical standards and will not tolerate behavior that is unlawful, unethical, or diminishes the reputation Hearthside has worked tirelessly to build. The trust our workforce places in us to be an employer of choice is paramount, and the same goes for the trust placed in us by our customers. As we always have, we will continually improve and earn that trust every day" Acosia said.

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