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.

Perfect Excuse To Get Together

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It seems unbelievable that we’ve already passed the Fourth of July, indicating that not too long from now we’ll be waving goodbye to 2014 and saying “HELLO!” to 2015.

During the celebration of America’s independence, we take time to reflect on the many sacrifices made for our great country and to appreciate the freedoms and liberties we have. For many, it’s time shared with family and friends, which usually includes a good meal and great conversations under a sky of fireworks.

Our friends at the Urban League of Middle Tennessee know all about seizing the opportunity to sit down at a Family Supper in ways that can impact the community. Check out the video here:

What do you enjoy most about Family Suppers? Do you have them often enough?

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

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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.

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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.

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Adversity on the Field

Prior to joining Tyson Foods, I had the privilege of working for a World Champion NFL team, so I have seen excellence on and off the field first-hand, alongside the hard work and preparation it takes to get there as a unit. So when I tell you that I could not be more PROUD to now work with my GREAT teammates at Tyson, it does not begin to explain how I feel about this organization – who we are and what we do to feed families.

In light of the recent chain of weather events that have unleashed mass destruction and impacted hundreds of lives across the South, how grateful I am to work for a company that not only is large enough to provide material resources, but that also has a genuine culture of caring for each other.

I am nothing short of AMAZED with our Team Members.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to be “in the field” with our Meals that Matter disaster relief crew that included cook teams from our Clarksville, Dardanelle, Texarkana and Transportation locations (all from Arkansas) on a trip to Mayflower, AR. We set up shop at the local high school after a tornado struck the area, including neighboring town Vilonia, on Sunday, April 27, 2014.

“Surreal” is the only word to describe the experience of arriving to an area less than 24 hours after a natural disaster – from seeing properties that held the personal belongings of families for generations to the humbleness that flows through your veins in being able to offer a hot meal to those who are stranded – which is what our Dardanelle guys and myself did. While our Team Members at the high school dished out hundreds meals, we piled into a pick-up truck and went into the once-lively neighborhoods to deliver food and water to those that couldn’t make it to our site.

Team Members Dave and Mike helping deliver meals in Mayflower, AR.

Team Members Dave and Mike helping deliver meals in Mayflower, AR.

In the meantime, we have superstar Team Members who’ve rushed to the aid of those in Mississippi and other states impacted, doing what they can without pause.

My heart and prayers go out to all those affected by the storms.

You know that saying that goes, “I didn’t realize my own strength…” Our Team Members are exemplary models of going above and beyond in ways that we sometimes don’t realize are even possible.

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.