This holiday season, don’t forget to #ThankAFarmer

Food—it’s the center of so much of our lives, especially this time of year. We gather around a table with our family and friends, telling stories and enjoying great memories. The centerpiece of that conversation is great food. I’m sure most people take for granted how much hard work went into making that meal happen, especially the farmers who worked 7 days a week, every day of the year to raise or grow the what’s on that plate.

It’s a tough job that doesn’t get a lot of praise or awards. And sometimes it’s not about how hard you work, but how Mother Nature treats you that year. The work is so demanding that most have left the farm to find work elsewhere in a job that’s more comfortable. In fact, 150 years ago, 90 out of every 100 Americans were farmers. Today, it’s 2 out 100—and more than 90% of those are family owned and operated. And those few American farmers are producing food for the world. Roughly 25% of what’s produced by American farmers is exported. Modern farm techniques have allowed farmers to produce more food on fewer acres—262% more food than in 1950!

Just like modern agriculture has evolved and shifted to meet the needs of a growing world, so has our business. And while we’re focused on growing our branded product portfolio and value added meals, at the end of the day we rely on farmers to grow crops, produce ingredients, and raise animals we eventually package and sell in one way or another. Farmers aren’t just vital to our business—they’re part of the backbone of it.

Many of us weren’t raised on a farm and may not know a farmer on a personal level. Many of you do. But we should all understand how important farmers are to our business and our lives as consumers. When you gather around the table this season or any other don’t forget to say ‘thanks’ to who made it possible. As the saying goes, “If you ate today, thank a farmer.”

 

Donnie Smith is President and CEO of Tyson Foods, Inc.

Simone & Jake Bernstein

Simone and her brother Jake Bernstein are truly “Hunger All-Stars.” Simone and Jake, high school students, created a website listing local nonprofit organizations (including food banks) that welcome youth volunteers. As avid volunteers in their community, it was tough for them to find places that were willing to welcome ages 10-17 without a parent. No previous website or resource existed. The website inspired them to organize the first St Louis Youth and Family Volunteer Fair on April 11, 2010. Simone and Jake met with local museum administrators and asked if the Children’s Museum would host the event. Simone was a volunteer at this museum in middle school. Not only did the museum offer to host the event, but they want to make it an annual event. The 2nd Youth and Family Volunteer Fair is scheduled for April 10, 2011. Entry to the fair at the St Louis Children’s Museum was a can a food. Over 550 youth attended the event donating over 850 pounds of food to a local food bank(that also was at the event offering volunteer opportunities)

Jake Bernstein

Jake utilized social media tools to recruit his peers to volunteer for World Food Day. He recruited over 50 students to help pack food. Jake also organized the first Youth and Family Volunteer Fair in the St Louis community. He created the event and asked for food donations from attendees. Over 550 students attended the event, with over 800 pounds of food donated to local food banks.

Do You KNOW Hunger?

KnowHunger logo 11-14

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.