United Airlines to the Rescue

The Lempert Report
May 11, 2020

On April 18 the Houston Food Bank held a large food distribution event, to help those who are in need due to the pandemic as well for those they normally serve.

What is different about this event was that Mark Zessin, an employee of United, answered the food bank’s call for volunteers and is now leading a company wide effort to transform empty cargo facilities into food distribution centers. Zessin noticed many of his fellow employees at Bush Airport had extra down time at work as the number of travelers dwindled.

"They (referring to the food bank) were quickly running out of room, and it was a challenge to find volunteers given the stay-at-home orders," Zessin told ABC News. "I thought we may have some assets they could use."

Zessin's vision became a reality at the airport. Hundreds of United employees from all departments are now sorting, packaging and distributing up to 6,000 relief packages to families in need every day.  

Zessin is also working on organizing a blood drive and next he plans on hand delivering thank you cards to health care workers. The Houston project has been so successful, United said it is working to open a second distribution center at its cargo facility in San Francisco.

President and CEO of the Houston Food Bank Brian Greene said they would not forget the generosity, especially given the "particularly trying times for United Airlines and their almost 100,000 employees" as the airlines continue to take an unprecedented financial hit.

"You get up in the morning and try to make a difference," Zessin said. "We all do."

Thank you Mark, and Thank You United Airlines.