How Frontier Co-op formalized a 40-plus-year commitment to childcare benefits

HR BREW | The herbs and spices manufacturer in Eastern Iowa has had a formal onsite childcare center since the 1980s, and currently supports 110 kids.


When Frontier Co-op, an herbs and spices manufacturer, launched in 1976, the eastern Iowa-based company employed many women from farming families who were the primary caregivers in their households.

“They were entering the workforce for insurance purposes, to be honest,” said Megan Schulte, Frontier’s VP of HR. “Many times, the men were out in the field. When they would come into the workplace, they would need childcare, so they just started bringing their kids along with them.”

What started as an informal operation of Frontier employees pitching in to take care of their colleagues’ kids was formalized in the 1980s as a subsidized onsite childcare program. Today, Frontier runs a childcare center at its Norway, Iowa headquarters that supports 110 kids. The benefit is part of Frontier’s “Breaking Down Barriers to Employment” initiative, which seeks to help employees overcome systemic challenges, including a lack of access to childcare.

How Frontier runs its childcare program. Rather than partner with a third-party provider, such as Bright Horizons or KinderCare, to run its onsite childcare center, Frontier has a license to run the operation itself. Frontier employs childcare center workers directly; the employees who work at the center receive the same benefits as the rest of the company’s workforce.

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