The World Needs More Lolas

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” What are we doing for our communities, our animals, and our planet that makes the world a better place than we found it? It’s an important question with no one simple answer or solution, but a main focus at Tyson Foods for many years has been addressing the very real and prevalent problem of hunger in our society.

That’s why after donating 100 million pounds of food over the past 15 years, we’ve made a renewed commitment to hunger relief. We announced our pledge last fall for $50 million in cash and in-kind donations over the next five years in the fight against hunger, with a special focus on innovative initiatives at the local level.

We are so proud to be supporting the dedicated individuals on the front lines of fighting hunger in their communities like Lola Stephens-Bell of Austin, Texas, who runs a restaurant where she serves free, hot, homemade meals in addition to devoting several days a week to drive food directly to the underserved people of Austin.

Last Friday, in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and National Day of Service, we were so very grateful to honor Lola’s service to her community by announcing the donation of a year’s worth of protein and also unveiling and presenting a refurbished bus that we customized  to help Lola more effectively deliver meals to her community.

We know we can’t solve hunger alone. It’s the organizations and heroes in communities all over the country who are doing the real work. We’re proud to support those who are fighting hunger across the country and shine a spotlight on individuals making a big difference in innovative ways and above all else- helping others.

As a company and as culture we can learn much from Dr. King’s legacy, but we must do so not only in words, but in action.

The world needs more Lolas.

So we’d like to take today and say thank you, Lola, and thank you, Dr. King, for always seeking to help others before yourselves — because that is how you make a real difference.

Do you know someone making a difference in your community? Let us know here:

Donnie Smith is President and CEO of Tyson Foods, Inc.

This holiday season, don’t forget to #ThankAFarmer

Food—it’s the center of so much of our lives, especially this time of year. We gather around a table with our family and friends, telling stories and enjoying great memories. The centerpiece of that conversation is great food. I’m sure most people take for granted how much hard work went into making that meal happen, especially the farmers who worked 7 days a week, every day of the year to raise or grow the what’s on that plate.

It’s a tough job that doesn’t get a lot of praise or awards. And sometimes it’s not about how hard you work, but how Mother Nature treats you that year. The work is so demanding that most have left the farm to find work elsewhere in a job that’s more comfortable. In fact, 150 years ago, 90 out of every 100 Americans were farmers. Today, it’s 2 out 100—and more than 90% of those are family owned and operated. And those few American farmers are producing food for the world. Roughly 25% of what’s produced by American farmers is exported. Modern farm techniques have allowed farmers to produce more food on fewer acres—262% more food than in 1950!

Just like modern agriculture has evolved and shifted to meet the needs of a growing world, so has our business. And while we’re focused on growing our branded product portfolio and value added meals, at the end of the day we rely on farmers to grow crops, produce ingredients, and raise animals we eventually package and sell in one way or another. Farmers aren’t just vital to our business—they’re part of the backbone of it.

Many of us weren’t raised on a farm and may not know a farmer on a personal level. Many of you do. But we should all understand how important farmers are to our business and our lives as consumers. When you gather around the table this season or any other don’t forget to say ‘thanks’ to who made it possible. As the saying goes, “If you ate today, thank a farmer.”


Donnie Smith is President and CEO of Tyson Foods, Inc.