Food distributor named a Business Partner of the Year

Highlighting the importance of employer partnerships to improve the lives of people with disabilities, ProAct, Inc. in Eagan named H. Brooks of New Brighton a 2019 Business Partner of the Year.

H. Brooks distributes produce using a ProAct crew for sorting, quality control and packaging at its New Brighton facility. Manufacturing Manager Steve Elsberry said the crews are prompt and dependable. ProAct also sends supervisors to assist.

“They are a wonderful example of people who work closely with us to provide opportunities for the people we serve,” said ProAct President and CEO Steve Ditschler. “We are grateful for their role in enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities.”

On weekdays, individuals from ProAct quality check fresh fruits and vegetables, sort and shrink wrap them. ProAct Community Employment Manager Jessica Gruber said the lead person in the coolers area of the H. Brooks warehouse works closely with the individuals with disabilities.

The longer commute is worth it for the steady crew of three, Gruber explains. Individuals wear appropriate clothing for the cold environment and work side-by-side with H. Brooks employees.

Elsberry said that inclusion is important. Some from ProAct may be working on their own tasks, but they are near other staff members from the company. Every precaution is taken for safety, the manager said.

ProAct also picks up some of the training responsibilities with its crew to handle food and comply with food safety rules, which saves the company time, explains Elsberry. “The group is generally in high spirits, so smiles bring an uplift to the other workers as well.”

ProAct’s work at H. Brooks began in November of 2017 and 10 to 15 individuals from the nonprofit have benefitted from the opportunities since that time.

ProAct, Inc. offers person-centered services that enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities. It is headquartered in Eagan and has additional operations in Red Wing, Shakopee, Zumbrota and in Hudson, Wis.