Waste not. Want not.

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I don’t know about you, but I ate pretty well last Thursday. Turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, the works. And the same on Friday. And Saturday. And in spite of all the food we sent home with our kids, we’ll still have Thanksgiving leftovers that will ultimately, unfortunately, not be eaten. It’s a sad fact that we waste a lot of food in America. Some say we could feed all the hungry in the world with what gets thrown away. I’m not sure I believe that, but I do know we can do a heck of a lot better when it comes to making good use of what we have.

At Tyson Foods, we’ve aspired to be a thought leader in the discussion of how a growing world is going to be fed. Recently food waste has become a very, very hot topic in that discussion.
So it was appropriate that in the week of Thanksgiving we announced a $225,000 Tyson Foods grant to the University of Arkansas, in support of their Full Circle Campus Food Pantry and an exciting young program called Razorback Food Recovery. The latter is specifically focused on recovering and redistributing food that would otherwise be wasted, and in its first seven months of existence has saved more than 20,000 pounds of wholesome food from the dumpster, and given it to organizations that feed those in need.

These U of A programs are groundbreaking, and the exciting thing about our grant, is a portion of it is specifically earmarked for showing other colleges and universities around the country how to implement similar successful programs. We’re hopeful that we’re sowing seeds for the recovery of a lot more food that can feed hungry people.

Here’s an article that tells more about the donation.
Meanwhile, think about your personal role in this issue. What can we do as individuals and as a society to make certain as little as possible is wasted?

Do You KNOW Hunger?

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Lots of folks don’t know. We have the research to prove it.
Three years ago, we embarked on a research project with the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), in which we measured public knowledge and attitudes about hunger in the U.S., particularly in their own communities.

It all began when we heard our own team mates say, “We really don’t have a problem with hunger in our community.” As it turns out, no matter where you live, that’s just not true. Food insecurity is in every single community in the United States. North to South. East to West.  Affluent or at risk.

Our 2011 research showed that two-thirds of Americans believed that hunger was not a severe problem in their communities. In August of this year, we repeated the research, with similar results.
If folks don’t believe hunger is a problem where they live, what kind of urgency will they have in solving it?

That’s why we created the KNOW Hunger campaign. Since 2011, a big part of our hunger relief outreach, in addition to donating millions of pounds of food, and supporting local and national hunger relief organizations, has been creating awareness that no matter where you live, hunger is a serious challenge.

One heartening result of the research is that people are indeed aware that hunger is a big problem nationally, and they believe we should be applying resources to fix the problem.
Are you aware of how hunger affects your own community? Are you involved in hunger relief activities? We’d love to how you’re making a difference in the fight against hunger.

There are other very interesting findings in the 2014 KNOW Hunger Survey. To find out more, go here.

It’s the least we could do

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I’m with the Tyson Meals that Matter team in Mayflower, Arkansas.  I’ve seen lots of tornado damage in my career with Tyson, going back to the ’96 Moore, Oklahoma storm.  Joplin and Alabama in 2011.  Moore again last year; to name a few. I don’t care how much one might have seen, you never cease to be amazed at the stuff nature can do.
I’m grateful for and proud of the people in this company I work for, who are always willing to drop what they’re doing to go help out.  It might get easy to get too proud of what we’re doing, but for the contact with people whose lives have been directly affected by these tragedies.  Without fail, we see folks who have themselves suffered immense personal loss, putting their troubles aside to help their neighbors.
There’s nothing so humbling as an outpouring of heartfelt gratitude from someone who’s lost everything, just because you gave them a chicken sandwich. Dang. It’s the least we could do.
If you have a moment, send out a prayer or positive thought (or whatever your belief system allows for) for the people affected by the weather of the past few days.   I’m sure a donation to the reputable non-profit of your choice providing relief would also be greatly appreciated.

The Tyson Meals that Matter team serves hot meals to victims and relief workers in natural disasters. 

#FoodThanks

FoodProduction_MOplantEvery day I have the honor to work with and around people who make food.  They work hard.  From the farm, to the production plant, to the folks who sell and deliver the food, all the way to the people who perform essential jobs behind desks—they care about what they do and the products they make.   They feed those products to their own families, but they know a lot of other families are enjoying them, too.  I’d really like for the people who disparage big bad companies to meet each and every one of them.
As we pause and reflect on our blessings this week,  I’m thankful there are people who devote their lives to making and serving food, whether they work on a small farm that feeds a few people or one that cultivates thousands of acres; in a local diner or in a national restaurant chain; for an artisinal manufacturer  or a large company that feeds millions. We need them all to feed a hungry world.
I’m hopeful that everyone who wants a meal this Thanksgiving will find one.  And I pray for the day that anyone who needs a meal will have one, every day of the year.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Stop, look and listen before you accuse.

6337060349_eaf1e38ce3_bSome of my good friends are posting a link to a blog story indignantly pointing to a food drive being held in a WalMart store in Ohio, to benefit fellow associates in need during the holiday season.  (The food drive was initiated by the associates at the store, not as a corporate program).   There’s a suggestion therein that this would never occur in a place that paid a “living wage.”
I’m not here to either defend or pass judgment on WalMart’s wages.  That discussion occurs in plenty of other places.
However.  Circumstances place people in need.  Those circumstances can turn on almost anyone, anywhere.
The implication that a “decent” workplace would never have employees with food insecurity is just wrong, and I might suggest dangerous for those with an interest in fighting hunger.  Using this particular situation to sling a spear at WalMart does a great disservice to everyone in the hunger movement trying to combat a myriad of misplaced stereotypes about food insecurity.
Let me repeat:  Food insecurity can be present in any workplace.
Take a close look around your own circle; at your own workplace, your friends and family, and in the places you do business.  You’ll likely be surprised to find people in real need if you dig deeply enough. Then, I might suggest, do what the associates at this WalMart store did.  Take action to help out.

Photo vastateparksstaff  Flickr Creative Commons