AUSTIN — Hormel Foods Corp. is sharing the wealth through the 83rd straight year of its profit-sharing program.

The Austin-based company distributed a share of its profits Wednesday to eligible hourly and salaried employees.

The profit-sharing program is voluntarily paid at the discretion of the company’s board of directors each year, and has become an annual Thanksgiving Eve tradition at the company.

A company spokesman declined to say how much exactly was disbursed to employees. However, a statement released by Hormel said the amount has ranged from $14 million to $17 million each year over the past decade.

Juan Lopez, who works at the Austin plant, said the program makes him feel appreciated and that, for him, it’s well timed — he’s getting married next month, and three of his four kids have birthdays in November.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

“With the presents, then Christmas, it helps out a lot,” he said.

“We don’t see this in other places,” said Nyadol Chol, who works at the Austin plant.

“A lot of families are struggling,” she added. “This means a lot — big time.”

Austin plant manager Kari Pollak said the profit sharing was well earned after a difficult year.

“This has been a challenging year and people have made sacrifices, and this is our way of saying, ‘Thank you, we appreciate it, and we look forward to whatever challenges come in the next year because our team has shown we can handle them,’ ” she said.

Jim Snee, chairman of the Hormel Foods board of directors and president and chief executive officer at Hormel, acknowledged in a statement the difficulties employees faced during the pandemic.

“This time-honored tradition — an 83-year-old practice — rewards the dedication and hard work of our team every day to put food on tables across the globe, which has been especially challenging during the pandemic,” Snee’s statement read.

Jay C. Hormel established the profit-sharing program in 1938.