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.

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


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. 

Tyson Foods #MealsThatMatter Disaster Relief Teams Feed 64,000 in #Oklahoma

Tyson Foods volunteer employees have served 64,000 Meals That Matter® meals to residents and relief workers in Moore, Oklahoma, immediately following the devastating tornado of last week and continue to work alongside the American Red Cross, the National Guard, and others who are helping to rebuild Oklahoma.

5-31-Nashville team in Moore OK
On Wednesday, the team had already served about 6,000 meals before storms once again threatened the area.

“The weather has been challenging over the last 48 hours, and our teams have been battling through, but we must keep everyone safe,” says Community Relations Manager Jeff Wood.

Jeff and other employees are providing information updates and photos on our work in Moore.

Jeff said Thursday, that Tyson Foods’ relief efforts would likely begin winding down on June 3, as services in much of the town are now back up and running, people are going back to work, and many restaurants and other businesses are open.

“I was so proud of our employees, more than 16 complexes volunteered,” Jeff says. “We sent one request out to the plants, and they responded immediately. There are some teams that may not be dispatched, but they were just as valuable in our efforts, because they were ready and willing to go if needed. I can’t thank all of our employees enough.”

Day 2 update from Moore, OK: Tyson Foods #MealsThatMatter

Jason Betts, Tyson Foods #MealsThatMatter volunteer

Tyson Team Member Jason Betts is a nurse manager at the Tyson Foods plant in Noel, Missouri

Tyson Team Member Jason Betts (pictured at left) is a nurse manager at the Tyson Foods plant in Noel, Missouri. He is volunteering in our disaster relief efforts in Moore, Oklahoma. Jason said it means a lot to him to be working in the Meals That Matter program because Tyson actually fed him when he was displaced in the Joplin tornado two years ago. He’s grateful to be working for Tyson Foods, where he has an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those affected by the May 20 tornado.

Live reports from the field today from Jeff Wood, Community Relations manager at Tyson Foods:
Jeff says, “This morning started off with storm alarms sounding and severe thunderstorms with hail. We had delayed everyone an hour already, but the storm is still going on. We battened down the hatches before leaving, so we’ll be back at it as soon as possible. Sherman, Texas, team is already on site, taking cover. I don’t imagine there will be breakfast service based on radar.

Approaching 1,200 people served so far today with increasing walk-up demand, plus neighborhood distribution. We are working with national guard now. We’re preparing and serving burgers, chicken wraps, steak sandwiches, and hot dogs. Expecting another big day. We have recruited volunteers to help meet demand.”

NOTE: The storms moved on, and the Meals That Matter team is back at it.

How to get involved
We need volunteers to help deliver meals! Come see us at Southgate Baptist Church, 740 SW 4th St, Moore, Oklahoma. Ask for Pat!

If you’re unable to join us in person, you can always donate to the Red Cross, too.


Per media reports:

“Tyson served a free lunch to about 4,000 people Wednesday in front of Southgate Baptist Church on Southwest Fourth Street, said Jeffrey Wood, manager of community relations for the company.

Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman said that between lunch and dinner the company served 5,000 people Wednesday…

‘This is the single largest nongovernmental food operation that I know of that’s operating in the city of Moore,’ said Randy Terrill, a former Oklahoma state representative who was helping as a volunteer.’”