Oh, SNAP…we’re invading food deserts!

About two weeks ago, “Music City” was alive and pumping. Fans from around the world were traveling to Nashville, Tennessee, in droves for the Country Music Awards Music Festival. In the midst of fun and excitement, the everyday hustle for locals carried on.

Unfortunately, that also meant that hunger too, never missed a beat.

According to the USDA Food Research Atlas, 1 in 5 Nashville residents live in a food desert. This type of ‘desert’ is a geographic area where access to affordable, fresh food (such as produce), is not easily accessible.

With this knowledge, we were excited to drive over to the Parthenon Towers across from Centennial Park on Thursday, June 11 where we unveiled a brand new mobile market with our friends from Community Food Advocates. The swanky design of the truck looks similar to a tasty food truck you’d find in any downtown metro area during lunch. However, this renovated vehicle (featured above) was a new concept for The Nashville Mobile Market that doubles their fleet as a result of $35,000 gift through our KNOW Hunger Nashville project with the Urban League of Middle Tennessee.

Tyson_Foods_MobileMarket_Small-11

This month alone, The Nashville Mobile Market will make 49 stops with 23 different partner agencies. At each stop, local residents have access to nutritious food items, ranging from seasonal fruits like strawberries to veggies such as broccoli, and other pantry staples. Better still, shoppers have the option to purchase food with SNAP dollars.

We may be a meat company, but we know the importance in having access to a well rounded and nutritious meal. The ability to use SNAP benefits at this mobile market means it is one more convenience to help individuals and families facing tough times to stretch their dollar. Nashville Metro Council Members Burkley Allen and Erica Gilmore joined us in making a few remarks indicating the significance of such an expansion.

After children, elderly and disabled individuals are amongst the greatest percentage of SNAP recipients. Therefore, even with a grocery store a bus ride away from Parthenon Towers, many residents at this location are unable to travel due to limited mobility. The words of gratitude that were shared by frequent market patrons were overwhelming and confirmed our belief that helping to make the vision of Community Food Advocates a reality truly makes a difference.

The mobile market reveal was just the start of our trip. We also spent time with two important groups of leaders to talk about food insecurity in Middle Tennessee, and to challenge them.

IMG_0161 IMG_4345

The first group included approximately 47 high school students enrolled in the Urban League’s College Readiness program. We emphasized that no one person represents hunger while discussing how food insecurity can affect performance in school and at work. In a classroom-made grocery store scenario, we “aged” two students a few years and challenged them to shop for themselves on a limited budget — similar to an individual who may receive SNAP. With nutrition in mind, both Ashanti and Michael made excellent choices that were balanced in diet, although budgeting was definitely a test. The room of students  was quick to chime in on what better decisions could have been made. In wrapping up the discussion, we encouraged students to be sensitive to others who may silently experience hunger and shared that even at their age. The takeaway was they too can be active in ways to fight hunger.

On Friday, June 12, we closed out the week with our second KNOW Hunger Challenge in Nashville. Our goal was to create awareness about hunger, offer SNAP and nutrition education while debunking myths about the federally funded program and its users. It was an honor to have been invited by the Alpha Delta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Inc., whose organization programs target health promotion, family strengthening and educational enrichment.  In addition to sorority members, the room of community leaders included Tennessee State Representative Brenda Gilmore, Councilwoman Erica Gilmore and Team Members from our Tyson Foods – Shelbyville location.

Competitiveness and camaraderie were in full effect as we sent the teams out on their shopping mission at a nearby grocery store. They were charged with shopping for a hypothetical family of four. Although many participants were longtime shoppers for their own families,  they still found the challenge to be eye-opening.  For example, one of the takeaways noted was the nutritional value in shopping more around the perimeter of the store, where one can find fresh produce, grains, bread, meats and dairy.

The challenge was also an appreciated reminder of the real-life challenge for those participants  whohave had to shop on a budget in the past but who can now shop more freely as they’ve advanced in careers. As we discredited the myth that all SNAP recipients are lifetime beneficiaries, we added that the experience is an opportunity to empathize and educate extended family or friends that may have fallen on tough times.

Speaking of tough times, all food purchased during the challenge was donated our friends at The Nashville Food Project who make it possible for hundreds of Nashvillians facing hardships to have a hot meal every day. Elanco sweetened the pot with an additional $500 gift card donation!

KNOW Hunger Challenge Winning Team

KNOW Hunger Challenge Winning Team

We know that hunger will not end at the SNAP of a finger. The fight against hunger is fought in the everyday battles of more than 110,000 Nashville residents. To overcome, it will take an evolving and committed group of strong individuals, playing different roles but working together as a team to help our neighbors get back on their feet so that our communities can win. We’re so fortunate in this campaign to have found great partners, each of whom in their own way bear arms to take down hunger and its barriers in Middle Tennessee.

 

Party with a Purpose

‘Tis the season for numerous holiday celebrations! Regardless of your background or beliefs, you’ve probably received countless invitations and have taken part in a few winter festivities.

Urban League Young Professionals of Middle Tennessee and Tyson Foods Team Members from Shelbyville & Goodlettsville, TN locations

Urban League Young Professionals of Middle Tennessee and Tyson Foods Team Members from Shelbyville & Goodlettsville, TN locations

This past weekend, Santa’s reindeer took me back to Nashville, Tenn. to meet up with a few Team Members from our Shelbyville & Goodlettsville facilities for an evening of mix and mingling with up and coming community leaders–the mission: spread good cheer to inspire others to use their voice to talk about domestic hunger.

Every year, the Urban League of Middle Tennessee Young Professionals host an annual holiday party with a toy drive. This year we added a food drive and a little twist…

We challenged young professionals to use their voice on social media to talk about facts related to food insecurity with the hashtag, #KNOWHungerMT. “You know those young professionals, always on their phones,” one might say. So why not show the true value of 140 characters?

Our goal was simply to engage the young professionals, their networks (and really, everyone) in a conversation in hopes that we inspire future advocates to carry the torch in fighting hunger.

And, to make their tweets a part of immediate hunger relief, Tyson Foods promised to donate $5 for every #KNOWHungerMT tweet/retweet during the weekend up to $5K, to The Nashville Food Project (who also received the food items collected that evening).

We were excited to see the weekend Twitter conversation included nearly 300 mentions! While we could be technical with our calculations, we knew that the full $5,000 could go a long way for The Nashville Food Project and the communities they serve so we’re gifting the entire amount – ’tis the season to give!

Here’s the thing to remember: While the holidays come and go with joyous times for many, the sad reality is that hunger happens year-round. The good news is that there are little ways each of us can help to make a big difference.

Tell us, what are your plans to ‘party with a purpose’ this holiday season? How will you help fight hunger after the season as we head into a new year?

#GivingTuesday: It’s not about your turkey leftovers!

GivingTuesday-Tyson+NoKidHungry2013
#GivingTuesday is not for “giving away” your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. Nope, it’s about you and I joining the masses of kind-hearted folks giving together online! Think of it as global crowdsourced kindness.

Originally, the Gates Foundation created Giving Tuesday as a response to Cyber Monday and Black Friday. I like this new holiday as it shifts the primary focus of our spending from our own needs towards the needs of others. So, Giving Tuesday is a special day where you and I can join forces and change the world by donating online to our favorite charities.

Think of all the money spent over #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday and how much good we can do together if we instead collect our “savings” and donate it to our favorite charities like Share Our Strength‘s #NoKidHungry initiative, which does a wonderful job of raising awareness and fighting childhood hunger.

This year Tyson Foods is the proud sponsor of the #NoKidHungry Holiday Give-A-Thon and will match your donations, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000 USD. How cool is that?! So now your #GivingTuesday donation dollars go farther: double in fact!

1 in 5 children in America go to bed hungry. We can CHANGE that stat ASAP.

Who:     YOU, your friends and me!

What:    Support #NoKidHungry on #GivingTuesday!
1.  Join the #ThunderClap
2.  Donate to No Kid Hungry!

              Every dollar you donate will be matched by Tyson Foods, up to $25,000! 

When:  #GivingTuesday is all day on Tuesday, December 3, 2013.
The Thunderclap event is at 12:00 p.m. EST, tomorrow, 12/3.

Where:   Online http://nokidhungry.org/givingtuesday

Why:       Today is our day to make a difference in the lives of young children that are hungry, right here in America. Do your part and join with us to eradicate hunger this holiday!

Thank you!

Nutrition Fairs Add to Growing Hunger Synergies for Mississippi

Two recent KNOW Hunger Nutrition Fairs conducted in Vicksburg and Jackson drew 40 local organizations and more than 800 participants. The events, part of the Urban League-Tyson Foods Hunger Project Mississippi, provided free food and health screenings, nutritious cooking and exercise demonstrations plus access to programs for the underserved. 

A donation of 34,000 pounds of food kicked off the fairs. It was given to the Mississippi Food Network from the Urban League of Greater Jackson, Jackson State University and Tyson Foods.

 There were a lot of great moments, and some of the highlights are available here. But it’s increasingly clear the most important gathering is ongoing.

 There has been a proliferation of organizations and resources aimed at curbing hunger for Mississippi, which leads the nation in food insecurity. Several groups have been at it awhile, and here are a few of the lead entities engaged at present:

There are others, including a growing number of efforts by political leaders. Lasting success will likely require a coalition of public and private entities working together.

 There will be at least two more opportunities this fall that can help lend traction. The Urban League-Tyson Foods Hunger Project will conduct a SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Challenge on Nov. 13 in Jackson, and a day later The Mississippi Food Policy Council is holding a conference.

 Contact those organizations for more information, and also take a minute to visit all of these groups and see where your own effort might fit in. There’s plenty of room at the table for those who want to make a real difference.

http://bit.ly/ClarionLedgercoverage

http://bit.ly/WJTVcov

http://bit.ly/WAPTcov

http://bit.ly/WLBTcov

http://bit.ly/MissLink1

http://bit.ly/JackAdv

 

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.”