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Family Matters

Mary Burich | December 20, 2017


“Food defines us,” says José Rosario

Inspiration has many sources. For José Rosario, it comes in the form of knowledge that he can help take care of his family in Puerto Rico.

“I am working on a better future for myself and my family. I have a good career,” he says. “So, I have ways of giving back to them. That’s probably the thing that inspires me to come to work every day.”

Lending a hand to his extended family has been on José’s mind more than usual recently. Hurricane Maria – one of the worst storms in U.S. history – traveled across Puerto Rico Sept. 20, causing fatalities, catastrophic damage, and a total and prolonged loss of power. His family is safe, but the circumstances in Puerto Rico are trying, to say the least.

His Journey To Hormel Foods

José was born and bred there. He left home when he finished high school, traveling to Iowa to accept a baseball scholarship from Graceland University. He majored in accounting and business, and he learned about a company named Hormel Foods.

“My college was only 30 minutes from the Osceola Plant,” he says. “My teammate was working there. He encouraged me to apply.”

José pursued a number of openings with Hormel Foods and landed a job at the company’s Corporate Office in Austin, Minnesota. These days, he is an internal auditor with Jennie-O Turkey Store.

Among the many things he loves about his company are its family feeling and its commitment to diversity. José believes it is important to have different ideas, and he enjoys the opportunity he has through the Nuestra Gente employee resource group – a team of Hormel Foods employees that celebrates Hispanic culture – to teach others about who he is.

We don’t only feed people, we help people in need.

Jose Rosario

He is not shy about explaining that his heritage is one in which food plays a central role. “It defines us,” he says.

When family and friends get together, the gatherings are loud and boisterous. “There is dancing. We like to have a good time,” José says, adding, “Food is always involved.”

Jose Rosario

Though José manages to get back to Puerto Rico once a year, he still “misses it a lot.” It helps that he often cooks his favorite dishes – rice and beans, and plantains – for friends. However, what is absent is the weeks-long celebration of Christmas that takes place in Puerto Rico. Even when José returns for the holiday, he can’t possibly stay long enough to take it all in.

“It starts at Thanksgiving. We meet at my grandma’s house, decorate Christmas stockings and put presents for everyone in there,” he says. Gifts are opened on Christmas Day, with more presents and celebrating on Three Kings’ Day – also known as Epiphany. “After Three Kings’ Day, there is what we call “Octavitas,” says José. “It’s eight extra days of celebrating Christmas.”

His Hormel Foods family helps fill in the gap. “We care about our employees and people [in general],” he says. “We don’t only feed people, we help people in need.”