Lunchables line ends at Davenport’s Kraft Heinz plant after 27 years

DAVENPORT, Iowa -

Outside Davenport's Kraft Heinz plant on Thursday, November 10, 2016, it's the end of an era for Teresa Clevenger.

"I want to cry," she said.  "I am just devastated."

Not far away, Hy-Vee staffers are busy stocking Lunchables, those compact, clever snack boxes popular with kids and grown-ups, too.

Ironically, it's the same day that Lunchables production is ending at the Davenport plant.

Starting back in 1989, the Davenport plant turned out hundreds of thousands of Lunchables every week.

But now, production is moving from the outdated 1946 factory to other facilities.

"People are hurting," said Clevenger, who started at the plant in 1998.  "They're all hurting.  People are losing their jobs.  It's like starting over again."

While Kraft Heinz plans to open a state-of-the-art plant in Davenport in about a year, the new facility must only keep 475 of 1,200 jobs from the existing plant.

"Everybody's just really sad and upset," Clevenger said.  "The morale is just terrible, really, really bad."

Kraft Heinz will offer severance benefits and outplacement services.  The company says it remains committed to treating its staff with respect and dignity.

"It's really difficult," said Jess Fah, a workforce training facilitator with Iowa WORKS.

Fah is starting to help Kraft Heinz workers with these big changes.

"We see people that are really struggling because they know they're never going to have that again," she said.

Kraft Heinz also plans to move its Davenport bologna production around May 2017.

That's where Clevenger works on the line.

"We were the bologna capital of the world," she remembered.

At one time, the plant could make three million pounds of bologna every week.

"Everybody's just taking everything one day at a time," she concluded.  "Thank God we have a job there today. We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow."