A good day, with great partners.

iPh LUA Chiefs 13 blog photo
Almost ten years ago, I got a call from John Tyson, who said, “There’s a guy named Dave Hannah who’s going to call you.  He has some good ideas about maybe doing some food donations. At the time, we’d been involved in hunger relief for a while, and had already done some high profile donating.   I was getting quite a few calls from folks who had “good ideas” about food donations.   Quite often these were good people, long on vision, but short on being able to execute.  So when Dave called saying he thought he could get the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins involved in some donation events, I was, well, cautious.  But sure enough, within about three weeks, we had two donation events planned with those teams.   Dave knows how to get things done, and in the time that’s passed, he’s led the creation of Lift Up America, a group of influencers from around the country, focused on creating positive change. In that time, we’ve collaborated on more than a hundred truckload donations with pro and college sports teams all around the country.

We did another Lift Up America donation with the Chiefs yesterday; the tenth we’ve done with the team. More than 60 agencies of Harvesters Community Food Network picked up most of a 30,000 pound truckload of food within about 45 minutes at Arrowhead Stadium.  Dave’s first call after talking with us for the first time was to Clark Hunt, owner of the Chiefs, who graciously and enthusiastically agreed to be part of the donation.  We were honored to have Clark on hand yesterday to MC the donation event.   Also joining were Derrick Johnson, Akeem Jordan, Kendrick Lewis and Dontari Poe, members of the (undefeated!) Chiefs team.

As an added bonus, members of the (undefeated!) Fort Osage High School football team came out and moved a bunch of boxes.

We’re honored and priveleged to be able to associate with all of these folks, including, our own team from the Tyson Olathe, Kansas distribution facility.

Tyson Donates 193,000 Pounds of Protein to Nationwide Food Banks

Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, receives a Tyson donation by Ray Ables, complex manager of Forest, Miss., and Donnie Smith, president and CEO of Tyson Foods in Jackson, Miss., in June.

Tyson Foods, Inc. has completed a 10-city string of food donations, marking the end of a campaign in which the company donated 193,000 total pounds of protein to food banks across the southeast.

As part of its 2012 “Show Us Your Nugget Face” promotion (www.ShowUsYourNuggetFace.com), where the public voted on their favorite children pictured with Tyson Chicken Nuggets, Tyson Foods pledged to donate 1 million pounds of food to hunger relief organizations across America.

Food banks included the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, the Food Bank of Iowa, Feeding America Tampa Bay, Second Harvest of South Georgia, the Food bank of Contra Costa & Solano, the Lowcountry Food Bank in Charleston, S.C., the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, the Central Virginia Food Bank and Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina. Each food bank received more than 30,000 pounds of protein.

Last year Tyson launched the “KNOW Hunger” campaign to raise hunger awareness. As part of the campaign, the company released the results of a survey which found that one in four Americans is worried about having enough money to put food on the table and that many Americans are unaware of how serious hunger is in their own communities. Raising awareness that hunger exists in every community in the country reinforces the campaign’s imperative that “We should all KNOW Hunger.”

Show Us Your Nugget Face

Those of you who read this blog regularly know we don’t use the space for marketing purposes.  Our goal has been to make a positive contribution to the conversation about hunger in this country, and we believe we can’t do that by constantly trying to sell you Tyson products.  Check the archives.

We’re going to break that trend today.  The folks from our Consumer Products group have put together a new promotion called Show Us Your Nugget Face!  Get a Smile, Give a Smile.   People are encouraged to go to the Show Us Your Nugget Face! website and upload photos of their kids. (the “Give a  Smile” part) The winning photos will be featured in ads in People magazine and on a Times Square billboard.    We’re excited, because as part of the promotion, we’ll be donating a million pounds of Tyson products to Feeding America  food banks across the country in the next year (the “Get a Smile” part).

We can donate food because we have a great team of folks growing, making and selling food.  And because you buy our products. Thanks to all who make this possible.

Our Hunger Action Month Initiative

We’re doing a little experiment this month.  As part of Hunger Action Month we’re using Facebook to ask the public to cast votes for food banks located in ten areas rated among the highest with food insecurity.  The three food banks earning the most votes will receive a 30,000 pound truckload of protein each. 

You can begin voting for your food bank of choice on today by going to the Tyson Foods’ Hunger Relief Facebook page:    The winning food banks will be announced shortly after the voting period ends on Sept. 30.

The social media initiative is part of the Tyson Foods’ sponsorship of Feeding America’s effort to encourage more people to become Advocacy Champions for hunger relief.  People who want to join the fight are asked to register with Feeding America’s Hunger Action Center . 

The ten food banks in the voting are:

Montgomery Area Food Bank, Inc.;   Montgomery, AL
Yuma Community Food Bank;    Yuma,AZ
Feeding the Valley Food Bank;    Columbus, GA
Second Harvest of South Georgia, Inc.;     Valdosta, GA
Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana;     Monroe, LA
Mississippi Food Network;     Jackson, MS
Mid-South Food Bank;     Memphis, TN
Food Bank of the Albemarle;     Elizabeth City, NC
Lowcountry Food Bank;     Charleston, SC
Central Virginia Food Bank;     Richmond, VA

Rural Pantries Face Greater Demand

A local food drive recently netted Loaves and Fishes Food Bank of the Ozarks more than 4000 grocery items.

Feeding America’s recent Map the Meal Gap project showed that food insecurity in rural households is generally lower than in urban areas. Still, hunger persists on America’s back roads.

Ask Sara Hodgson, executive director of the Loaves and Fishes Food Bank of the Ozarks. She says the need for food assistance in Carroll County, Ark., is like it is in a lot of rural areas right now – rising.

The Berryville, Ark., facility has seen double-digit increases each of the last two years in the number of people it serves. That number rose 12 percent in 2010 to 22,929 people. Non-commodity food distributed last year totaled 174,222 pounds, up 21 percent from 2009.

Hodgson says her client base is a lot of elderly or disabled people and working families with kids who are having trouble making ends meet. According to Map the Meal Gap findings, Carroll County has a 15.7 percent food insecurity rate with 4,280 people who are food insecure.

“Especially with the price of gas and people having a hard time finding jobs, we’re seeing a bigger need than ever before,” Hodgson says. “We have a lot of people coming in and saying, ‘I’ve never done this before.’ They’re embarrassed to have to come to a pantry.

“But we understand, and thanks to donations like the one we just got from Tyson Foods we’re able to help.”

Tyson Foods Team Members from its Berryville and Green Forest facilities recently helped restock Loaves and Fishes’ shelves with a combined $3,800 of food and cash donations.

Located near Arkansas’ northwest corner, the county was named for Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Ark., who died in 1832 and was the last survivor of those who had signed the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

But it’s not the only rural area where the hungry are becoming more dependent on food assistance. Providers such as the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana have seen the need to branch out with more and more rural pantries. In a recent newsletter, the Louisiana entity issued a call for help starting outreach pantries in Bienville, Webster and Claiborne parishes.

Rural hunger will continue to be a challenge, particularly with a season that saw parts of the south and midwest wrought with natural disasters. Loaves and Fishes Food Bank of the Ozarks does have some more good news, however. The 25-year-old faith-based program will make its last mortgage payment this summer.

And Hodgson said that will enable her outreach program to do that much more good.