Why We Do What We Do – KNOW Hunger Nashville Holds a SNAP Challenge

DSC_9845

All along in Nashville the KNOW Hunger Nashville team and our partners have rallied around a singular cause, to raise awareness about hunger and nutrition in the Nashville area. On May 29th, we came one step closer to meeting our goals in this area with a total of 25 key leaders from across the community in the areas of faith, hunger awareness, community betterment, politics and agriculture at a SNAP Challenge event held at Tennessee State University. SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – it’s what used to be known as the federal food stamp program.

SNAP Challenges can be held in many different types of forms and fashions, most typically encompassing living in the shoes of recipients for a week and blogging about it. Our SNAP Challenge is different. We asked community leaders to lend us their afternoon to learn about the misconceptions of SNAP. They had to plan their menus and shop with their teams at the grocery for a week’s worth of meals for a family of four using only $100, the average for the program. After the shopping trip each group gave a presentation on what they purchased and why. The teams were judged on the criteria of best use of resources, creativity and nutrition.

DSC_9623DSC_9525

 

This year’s winner won because of their achievement in all three categories. Their grand total was $94.19 and key items included canned tuna, rice, pasta, chicken, pork and a variety of fruits and vegetables. After the competition and closing the consensus of the group was this: 1.) living on SNAP is hard and 2.) there is no great way to plan for everything that all members on your family need – much less want – on such limited resources. It’s fair to say that each participant left the challenge feeling that they were educated on what it might be like to live on SNAP benefits.

We’d like to give thanks to our partners Tennessee State University, Urban League of Middle Tennessee, Community Food Advocates and The Nashville Food Project for a great day of fellowship and learning. Events like the SNAP Challenge remind us why we do what we do.

DSC_9591

Mid-Week Hope Break

KNOW Hunger Art Contest Winners 1st Place: Emily Miller, Jackie Martinez and Briana London - MLK Jr. Academic Magnet School; 2nd Place: Emma Jones - MLK Jr. Academic Magnet School; 3rd Place: Kayla Smith - John Early Middle School

KNOW Hunger Art Contest Winners
1st Place: Emily Miller, Jackie Martinez and Briana London – MLK Jr. Academic Magnet School; 2nd Place: Emma Jones – MLK Jr. Academic Magnet School; 3rd Place: Kayla Smith – John Early Middle School

Writing a mid-week update on happenings for the KNOW Hunger Nashville project that is sure to leave you with a bit of hope. Just two weeks ago on March 26 and 27, the team was busy being part of the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Spring Symposium and the Family Supper Program, a joint partnership with the Urban League of Middle Tennessee (ULMT) and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS).

While travel got off to a rocky start due to some unexpected airline issues getting to Nashville, the trip wasn’t all lost. We had a great time visiting our friends with the HBCU Wellness Project for their Spring Symposium where the group convenes each year for general business and student presentations of findings from their public wellness research studies. Team Tyson was on hand to present awards to the KNOW Hunger Art Contest winners from the Wellness Expo in November and also to provide feedback to the students on their presentations. Thanks again to our friends at the HBCU Wellness Project for their kind hospitality.

 

Tyson_Family_Super-1

Tyson Foods is proud to support the Family Supper Series hosted by the Urban League of Middle Tennessee.

Later that afternoon we joined the Urban League to help out with their Family Supper held at the Claiborne Family Faith Worship Center. The Family Supper was the brainchild ULMT and MNPS, and has yielded amazing results in the community. So much so, that we not only wanted to attend, we wanted to sponsor a series on SNAP education and healthy eating. Word has it that the Family Suppers, since their inception only last year, have sparked meaningful conversation and action in a variety of communities across the city in the areas of parental involvement, literacy and healthy living.

We were really in for a treat that night. The Tennessee State University Extension program was on hand to a give presentation and demonstration on healthier drink options to beverages loaded with disguised sugar. We also heard from local moms Essence and Tiffany, who were deeply moved by the Family Suppers and have successfully set up action groups that meet at their children’s school on a weekly basis regarding community concerns.

Our team was so inspired by these ladies and all they have accomplished. Their message is one of hope. They hope to prove that through faith and perseverance you can forge a better life for your family through small, yet impactful gestures of healthy eating, community activism and parental involvement. Thanks Essence and Tiffany for reminding us why we do what we do.

Tyson_Family_Super-44

Claiborne community residents. (Center: Tiffany; Right: Essence)

Update: We’ve been busy in Nashville!

Since the August 2013 launch of the KNOW Hunger Nashville project, we’ve been enthusiastically organizing and planning our outreach and commitment to the Nashville, Tenn. community through 2015. We’ve got some great stuff planned! To recap, KNOW Hunger Nashville is a two-year partnership and initiative between Tyson Foods, Urban League of Middle Tennessee  and Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee to raise awareness of food insecurity and nutrition education in the Nashville area. 

The HBCU Wellness Project team kicked off the 2013 Wellness Expo at Bicentennial State Park in Nashville, Tenn. with Tyson Foods and the Urban League of Middle Tennessee.

The HBCU Wellness Project team kicked off the 2013 Wellness Expo at Bicentennial State Park in Nashville, Tenn. with Tyson Foods and the Urban League of Middle Tennessee.

 

We hit the ground running in the fall, executing a Wellness Expo event with the  HBCU Wellness Project (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), the Urban League of Middle Tennessee and Meharry Medical College  on November 16 at Bicentennial State Park in downtown Nashville. With more than 400 people in attendance, the event was a huge success. 

Several Team Members from Tyson Foods- Goodlettsville and Shelbyville, Tenn. plants prepared chicken sandwiches at the HBCU Wellness Expo.

Several Team Members from Tyson Foods- Goodlettsville and Shelbyville, Tenn. plants prepared chicken sandwiches at the HBCU Wellness Expo.

 

Approximately 75 participating vendors gave expo-goers access to information for essential services, transportation, fitness, healthy cooking and spirituality. Tyson was happy to be on hand with the Meals that Matter truck where the Shelbyville and Goodlettsville, Tenn. plant teams distributed more than 700 chicken sandwiches to attendees. 
Nearly 40 local middle school students competed in the 2013 KNOW Hunger Art Contest.

Nearly 40 local middle school students competed in the 2013 KNOW Hunger Art Contest.

 

A highlight to the Expo was the KNOW Hunger Art Contest where middle school students from Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School and John Early Middle School created art that depicted what it meant to them to truly know hunger. Contestants were recognized by State Rep. Harold Love, Jr. of Nashville and Patricia Parish Stokes, President and CEO of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee.

 

In March – April 2014, we have some very exciting things developing for the partnership. We’re working now towards building a website with help from Second Harvest that will aid food box and SNAP recipients in better planning their meals using the resources they are given. The site will feature a series of tools that include instructional videos, recipes and tip sheets that explain things like buying in bulk, utilizing staple pantry items and how to create a basic one pot meal. Because studies show that many families access the internet through their mobile phone exclusively, the site will be optimized for mobile use.

This upcoming spring and summer, we also plan to host events with Urban League and Second Harvest that educate key opinion leaders on hunger issues in the community through engaging and eye-opening activities.

Stay tuned for more exciting news from the KNOW Hunger Campaign!

KNOW Hunger Nashville

KNOW Hunger Nashville kicked off recently with Tyson Foods Vice President of Customer Development Paul Davis, at podium, joining, from left, Dr. Noel Manyindo of the National Urban League, State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, Patricia Stokes of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee and Jaynee Day of Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee for a food donation and press conference.

KNOW Hunger Nashville kicked off recently with Tyson Foods Vice President of Customer Development Paul Davis, at podium, joining, from left, Dr. Noel Manyindo of the National Urban League, State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, Patricia Stokes of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee and Jaynee Day of Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee for a food donation and press conference.

30,000 Reasons to Love KNOW Hunger Nashville

NASHVILLE, TN – A new partnership called KNOW Hunger Nashville launched on Aug. 15 in “Music City” with the donation of 30,000 pounds of protein to the regional Feeding America food bank.

Tyson Foods is proud to partner with two of Middle Tennessee’s best organizations – the Urban League and Second Harvest Food Bank – for this two-year campaign that aims to raise awareness about hunger and nutrition. The entire press conference may be viewed here.

Piloted in 2012 by the National Urban League and Tyson Foods in Jackson, Miss., the program comes to Middle Tennessee because of the area’s high food insecurity rates, proximity to Tyson facilities and strong local Urban League and food bank affiliates.

The Mississippi pilot saw 115,000 pounds of food donated, twin nutrition fairs in Vicksburg, Miss., and Jackson, Miss., a proliferation of activism and an increase in agency participation with the Mississippi Food Network.

In cooperation with Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University, the Nashville effort will include a variety of initiatives such as wellness fairs, Supplemental Nutrition Aassistance Program education, food donations, nutrition programming and the development of a new digital tool for stretching food budgets.

Nashville may seem an odd choice on first blush. Known for its rich history, music celebrities and pro sports, Tennessee’s capital conjures images of mansions and southern glam.

The truth though is that although two thirds of people nationally don’t think hunger is a problem in their community, one in four Americans worry about putting food on the table. That’s where KNOW Hunger comes in.

Raising awareness about the many nuances surrounding hunger will be the cornerstone of the endeavor.

Nashville’s Davidson County has a food insecurity rate of 18 percent, meaning about 112,000 of its residents frequently lack access to adequate food. Statewide, more than 400,000 families in Tennessee face food insecurity.

About 50 leaders attended the recent kickoff including representatives from all of the partners plus local influencers. State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, credited fellow speaker Dr. Noel Manyindo, a medical doctor and the NUL’s Senior Director of Health & Quality of Life, with articulating out how disproportionately children, seniors and minorities are affected by hunger.

“Children cannot perform at their highest level if they go to bed hungry and report back to school the next day hungry,” Gilmore said. “We want them to be at their best so that they can be the brightest students and Tennessee can rise to the top in every single area.”

Jaynee Day, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, said although many people believe the nation has recovered from recession, food banks continue to experience an uptick in need.

“This partnership will not only help Second Harvest continue to raise awareness of hunger issues, but it will also provide a valuable resource for individuals and families to learn how to access food assistance programs and provide more nutritious meals at home.”

Patricia Stokes, president and CEO of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee, said her organization is excited to add its voice and track record of success to the cause.

“It is our hope that this endeavor will strengthen our community and move individuals and families who are health challenged toward improved health and those who are food insecure toward greater security,” Stokes said.

The Urban League of Middle Tennessee will spearhead local efforts. Some of the more than 4,000 people Tyson Foods employs in Tennessee will also be involved in volunteer efforts along with assistance from local Urban League affiliate Guild and Young Professional auxiliary members.

Tyson Foods has been active in hunger relief more many years, donating more than donated 93 million pounds of protein to food banks other relief agencies since 2000.

The Twitter hashtag for the campaign is #KNOWHunger.

About the National Urban League
The National Urban League (www.nul.org) is a historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization dedicated to economic empowerment in historically underserved urban communities. Founded in 1910 and headquartered in New York City, the National Urban League has improved the lives of more than two million people nationwide through direct service programs that are implemented locally by its 95 Urban League affiliates in 300 communities across 36 states and the District of Columbia. The organization also conducts public policy research and advocacy activities from its Washington, DC bureau. The National Urban League, a BBB-accredited organization, has an A-rating from Charity Watch and a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, placing it in the top 10 percent of all U.S. charities for adhering to good governance, fiscal responsibility and other best practices.

About Tyson Foods
Tyson Foods, Inc.(NYSE: TSN), with headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas, is one of the world’s largest processors and marketers of chicken, beef and pork, the second-largest food production company in the Fortune 500 and a member of the S&P 500. The company was founded in 1935 by John W. Tyson, whose family has continued to be involved with son Don Tyson leading the company for many years and grandson John H. Tyson serving as the current Chairman of the Board of Directors. Tyson Foods produces a wide variety of protein-based and prepared food products and is the recognized market leader in the retail and foodservice markets it serves. The company provides products and services to customers throughout the United States and approximately 130 countries. It has approximately 115,000 Team Members employed at more than 400 facilities and offices in the United States and around the world. Through its Core Values, Code of Conduct and Team Member Bill of Rights, Tyson Foods strives to operate with integrity and trust and is committed to creating value for its shareholders, customers and Team Members. The company also strives to be faith-friendly, provide a safe work environment and serve as stewards of the animals, land and environment entrusted to it.

About Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee
Organized in 1978, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee is a private, not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization. Second Harvest’s mission is to feed hungry people and work to solve hunger issues in our community. Second Harvest distributes food and other products to approximately 400 nonprofit partner agencies in 46 counties in Middle and West Tennessee. Our partners include food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, childcare facilities, senior centers, group homes, and youth enrichment programs. For more information on Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and its programs, please visit www.secondharvestmidtn.org.

Food Bank Workers Should Carry Guns

Food for thought.

Food for thought.

To break into the national consciousness anymore it seems you have to either shout something divisive or unearth a scintillating scandal.
Nothing chews up a month of news cycle like imaginary girlfriends, sports doping and apocalyptic gun-control debates.
Old standbys such as hunger and under nourishment don’t stand a chance.
Maybe if the hunger-relief community was advocating for packin’ heat rather than packin’ food baskets the profile of domestic food insecurity would be raised a smidge. Of course that’s ridiculous. And that’s the point.
The fact is 15 percent of Americans are food insecure, according to Feeding America. Food insecurity is a nickel term for hunger, and it basically means those affected routinely lack adequate access to nutritious food. Frequently, they choose between food and paying bills.
That’s one in six people. That means most likely someone you know is affected.
Gun control is of course a relevant and serious topic. Obviously, there’s no real intent here to blend hunger into that quarrel.
It’s safe to say however there will be those who would never have clicked on this post if it wasn’t for the misleading headline.
Despite the fact 74 percent of Feeding America’s food pantries report ongoing increases in the number of clients that come to them for help, it’s hard to cut through the daily clutter. Over-hyped issues – significant and trivial – smother out discussions on less-sexy fodder.
Hunger is simply not naughty or politically polarizing enough for the talk-format media heads to foam at the mouth over. It’s far easier to get lost in the distraction of Justin Bieber mooning a camera, the latest Kardashian kerfuffle or an all-out shouting match about nuances of the fiscal cliff.
There are other reasons, too.
There’s the stigma of being food insecure that causes many to be unwilling to speak. There’s also the chance many feel overwhelmed by the scope of the problem. Or, with so many organizations and dollars being thrown at the issue maybe the consensus is someone else will carry the load.
Meanwhile, more than 16 million of America’s hungry are children. With guaranteed federal budget belt-tightening on the way that number is apt to get higher.
In order to generate better engagement about the issue of hunger, we’re going to have to continue to find innovative ways to tell the story.
That should start with some transparency, a good dose of passion, and yes even a sprinkle of the creative if we are to be heard.