The Youngest Tyson Hunger All-Star Yet

When we got involved in hunger ten years ago, we began hearing some incredible stories.  The most unlikely people in the most unlikely places doing tremendous work on the frontlines of fighting hunger.
That’s why when we put this blog up in 2007, we made a place for people to tell those stories themselves in the Hunger All-Star section.

This week, we honor one of most unlikely Hunger All-Stars yet.  5-year old Phoebe Russell, from San Francisco, after seeing a homeless man begging for food, decided she would raise $1000 by collecting cans to donate so people wouldn’t have to go hungry. She didn’t even know what $1000 was, but started calling relatives to help her out.

The phenomenal thing: Phoebe’s efforts raised more than $3700!!!

Her story came to our attention via Toan Lam, frequent contributor to the Huffington Post, and founder of the organization, GoInspireGo, which uses social networking to inspire social change.  His group created the video above.  You should check out their site.  Truly inspiring stories about phenomenal people.

We’re proud to present a truckload of food in Phoebe’s honor to the San Francisco Food  Bank.

Keep it up, Phoebe!!!  With you leading a future generation, we know there’s hope for an end to hunger.

Erma Smith, Hunger All-Star of the Month



Erma Smith

Erma Smith is more than a tireless advocate for the hungry.  She’s also an inspiration and a role model in her determination to feed her neighbors. For 25 years, she has been active in fighting hunger, making her a natural to be named our newest Tyson Foods Hunger All-Star of the Month.
Erma began as a volunteer with the Southwest Arkansas Foodbank and then served as its executive director for many years. While there, she helped provide food regularly to 100 food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens and other organizations. Each year, she distributed about 1.5 million pounds of food and grocery products to the hungry. She personally secured much of the food provided, relying on the  Arkansas Foodbank Network and other groups. Her food bank also distributed clothing, school supplies, household items, toys and personal care products through a program called Gifts in Kind. 
Erma and her team of dedicated volunteers prepared gift baskets for those in need and also as a “thank you” to volunteer food pantry operators. Her handmade gift baskets were the most sought-after door prize at the group’s annual gathering. She retired in May of this year, reluctantly, and only because her doctor insisted.  She continues, however, to make the gift baskets herself– a labor of love.
Connie Bledsoe, agency relations director for the Arkansas Foodbank Network, says Erma still comes to the agency to volunteer.
“Erma is just a kind and giving person who shares her love with everyone,” Bledsoe says.
Recently, Erma was honored by the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance at a breakfast at the Governor’s Mansion. In her remarks, she noted the importance of “service for the Lord” — words that have inspired an admirable life’s work.
Bledsoe adds, “That’s her mission- serving others. I don’t think she’ll ever stop. You can depend on Erma for anything.”

Erma was given her award on October 28, 2009 at a ceremony at the Arkansas Food Bank Network, attended by Arkansas Governor, Mike Beebe, and Vicki Escarra, CEO of Feeding America.  In honor of Erma’s being named Hunger All-Star of the Month, Tyson will donated a truckload of food (app. 30,000 pounds) to the Arkansas Foodbank Network in Little Rock.   

Sarah Owen: Hunger All-Star



The day in the life of a common businessperson consists of attending meetings, number crunching and ever-looming deadlines. For Sarah Owen, her day centers around hungry children, homeless families, disabled elderly and working relentlessly to solve the escalating problem of hunger in Southwestern Florida. Sarah’s day doesn’t end at 5 p.m., she continually seeks to help others, even after she has left the office. That is why Tyson Foods has named Sarah the next Tyson Hunger All-Star.

Sarah found her calling to serve while in Richmond, Virginia where she worked for a not-for-profit that lobbied and advocated for the rights of persons with mental disabilities. She realized her passion was in the world of community service. Sarah found great joy in helping others and working towards solutions that would benefit the needy. She is a self-proclaimed “hungerfighter” via her Twitter handle and the founder and co-author of “What’s Next? A Support Group for Single Mothers and their Children.”

Sarah is now the CEO of Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. where every day she is addressing the needs of the hungry citizens in Florida and is unrelenting in her efforts to fight hunger. CCMI is the umbrella agency for The Soup Kitchen, Faith in Action Senior Transportation, two United Way Resource Houses, Meals on Wheels and Hands & Hearts Montessori Preschool. CCMI provides food to the homeless as well as emergency groceries and affordable childcare to the working poor. After expanding in 1996, CCMI now delivers meals to the homebound hungry and transportation services to the elderly.

Throughout the course of a week Sarah is helping feed the nearly 90,000 hungry citizens of Southwest Florida.

Sarah and CCMI’s Soup Kitchen provide a noon-time meal six days a week, meals five days a week to the homebound hungry regardless of their ability to pay through Meals on Wheels, two nutritious meals a day for the children in the CCMI childcare center, a food pantry and mobile food pantries that provide emergency groceries to families in need and a backpack program for local schoolchildren who would otherwise receive little to no food on weekends.

With the honor of being named a Tyson Hunger All-Star, Tyson Foods donated more than 15 tons of protein to the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida in honor of Sarah.

Because of Sarah and her work, schoolchildren can indulge in a healthy meal which gives them more energy for learning and growth, elderly aren’t dependent on their family members to bring them food every day and the homeless don’t go hungry.

 Do you know a Hunger All-Star in your community?  You can recognize them by nominating them here.  We’ll put their story up on this site.  Each month we pick a Hunger All-Star of the Month to spotlight as we have Sarah, and donate a truckload of food to their Feeding America Food Bank.

Hunger All-Stars. Know One?



Tony and Dolly Ellis

Tyson started working in hunger relief in 2000.  We were pretty proud of ourselves when we first got into fight against hunger.  After all, we were donating several million pounds of much-needed protein a year to hunger relief.  

But it didn’t take long for us to get humbled. 

First off, our donations, as large as they were, didn’t begin to make a dent in the enormous need that exists.

And when we started working around people who were involved in hunger relief, we started hearing some phenomenal stories of self-sacrifice and determination about people on the front lines of hunger.  We donate a small portion of our production to hunger.  We were meeting people who were devoting large portions of their lives, often their own resources to feed those in need.

That’s why we created the Hunger All-Stars program.  You can go here and nominate any person or group of people you believe might be doing a good job in the fight against hunger in your community.  We’ll put their nomination online.  You can see the nominations here.  Once a month, we’ll pick a Hunger All-Star of the Month and donate a truckload of food in their honor to their local Feeding America food bank. 

This month, Tony and Dolly Ellis from New Orleans were selected as Hunger All-Stars of the month.  Read their inspiring story here. Last week Tyson donated a truckload of food in their honor to theSecond Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans.

Do you know a hard-working hunger fighter.  Nominate them here.

The Humblers

By Ed Nicholson



Ernie Conduff–Hunger All-Star

Nine years ago, when we started doing this hunger relief stuff at Tyson, we thought we were doing the world a lot of good by donating 3-4 million pounds of food a year.

We were humbled very quickly by a couple of things made clear to us:

First, 3-4 million pounds (these days 10-12 million lbs), while a lot of food, is relatively insignificant when one considers the enormous need that exists every single day.  Being involved gave us some context.

Additionally, as we got to know people throughout the hunger relief community, we heard amazing stories of people devoting their time, talents and treasures–most often at great self-sacrifice–to seeing that those in need had meals.

We wanted to help tell some of those stories, so we created the Hunger All-Star section of this site.  Anyone can nominate a Hunger All-Star here. We put most all nominations online, and each month we select a Hunger All-Star of the Month, and donate a truckoad of food in their honor to their Feeding America member food bank.

Our first Hunger All-Star of the Month was (then) 13 year-old Jonathan Crider from central Oklahoma, who raised more than $20,000 for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

Our most recent is Ernie Conduff, here in northwest Arkansas, whose organization Lifesource gives a hand up to hundreds in need a year.  Today, our team, along with Tyson’s own Angela Courage, who nominated Ernie, got to go present him his award.  We then got to give a truckoad of food to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank.

Ernie’s a humble guy himself, quick to defer credit to his staff, his board, his donors; everyone but himself.  But hearing what he does every day is amazing and inspiring.  And quite humbling.

If you know someone who does good work in hunger relief,  honor them by nominating them as a Hunger All-Star here.