There IS hunger in your community

The Tyson KNOW Hunger campaign, launched a couple of weeks ago, is based on our own experience–and a nationwide survey we conducted with FRAC–that indicates often people see hunger as a national problem, but not so much in their own communities.

This week Feeding America launched a phenomenal new tool to illustrate the face of hunger in the U.S.  Their Map the Meal Gap project, launched in partnership with the Howard Buffett Foundation and the Nielsen Company, is the result of a painstaking amount of data collection, channelled into an interactive tool that provides quick, easy access to levels of food insecurity and factors contributing to the challenges in every single county in the country.

I could describe it here, but you really should go there and look at it yourself.   See what’s happening in your state and your community.  Then share it with your friends and family.

KNOW Hunger Video–Spencer Tillman

We met Spencer Tillman through our friends at Lift Up America.  If you’re much of a college football fan, you know who Spencer is.  As lead studio analyst for CBS sports, he’s visible every autumn Saturday afternoon, wherever there’s a “big game,” moving into his current role after a distinguished career in college and pro football.   But when he’s not focused on football, Spencer does an amazing amount of great work to make the world a better place, traveling the country to speak and inspire.  He’s articulate and passionate about changing lives for the better. 

At the request of Lift Up America, Spencer agreed to tell his story as part of our KNOW Hunger video series, in which successful people talk about their own experiences to help educate and inform us about hunger. 

We look forward to seeing Spencer this Friday in his hometown of Tulsa as we do a food donation with Lift Up America and the University of Tulsa.  As you can see from the video, Spencer’s come a long way since graduating from high school there.  If you get a chance to talk with him, you get the feeling that with his boundless energy, intelligence and passsion, we’ll continue to see great things from him.  

Thanks, Spencer!

KNOW Hunger Video–Laura Rhea

We believe one of the biggest challenges facing the hunger movement is the inability of people to recognize food insecurity in their own communities.  As the recent FRAC/Tyson study on perceptions of hunger confirmed, many believe hunger is something that happens somewhere else, to someone else.

We’ve begun producing a series of video testimonials from now-successful people who at one time in their lives experienced food hardship.  The goal is to break down common stereotypes; promote the understanding that any of us, at any time, could find ourselves in a situation in which we might need help.

Laura Rhea, CEO of the Arkansas Rice Depot, has an incredibly compelling testimony. She turned her personal experience with hunger into a career in service of feeding those in need.

Do you know someone who has a similar story to tell? If so, we might be interested in recording their testimony for the KNOW Hunger video series. Watch this space for more videos in the coming weeks.

Do you KNOW Hunger?

At Tyson Foods, we’ve been involved in hunger relief for a decade now. It’s been an ongoing effort, and we’ve never really done a major “campaign.”

That chages today, when we announce the launch of our KNOW Hunger campaign, focused on creating awareness for the issue.

It all kicks off this afternoon with the announcement of results of a nationwide survey on Americans’ attitudes and perceptions of hunger, completed in cooperation with the Food Research and Action Center.  As far as we can tell, it’s the most comprehensive survey ever (at least in recent years), devoted exclusively to what people think and know about the issue.

The survey was initiated from what we were seing in our own communties (which I’ve discussed here before):  that people see hunger as a signficant problem nationally–but not so much in their own communties.

Three big takeaways from the survey:

  • One in four Americans worries about not having enough money to put food on the table at some point next year.
  • Americans across the country do indeed see hunger as a signficant national problem; one that deserves our support.
  • Despite perceiving hunger as a serious national problem, most see hunger as less of a problem in their own communities. 

We believe the last point offers a potential challenge.  People are more inclined to apply limited resources to problems that are closest to home. We need to make them understand that no matter where they live, hunger affects them and their community.

We’re also announcing today that we’re donating a million pounds of Tyson products in 36 cities across the country. We’re pleased to be partnering with 23 different customers, many of whom also have hunger as their primary cause.

As we make donations in local markets, we’ll talk about the survey and why it’s important for people to be aware of what’s happening in their community.  Because if we aren’t fully informed, we wont’ be fully engaged. If we don’t KNOW hunger, we stand less of a chance of having NO hunger.  At the donations, we’ll let the hunger fighters talk about the scope and nature of hunger in their communities.

We hope you don’t mind that we’ll be using quite a bit of the bandwidth of this blog in the next month or so to talk about what’s happening at these events.

There’s a lot more on the survey and other parts of the campaign in the Media and Resources page of this blog.  We’d love your feedback on the survey, and anything else connected with the campaign.

Who are the hungry people? (you can help with a comment)

By Gayle Keck
San Francisco Food Bank

In San Francisco, they’re all around you. 150,000 San Franciscans face the risk of hunger every day – that’s 1 in every 5 adults and 1 in every 4 children. Yes, a shocking 25% of the city’s children don’t have enough food to learn and grow properly.

Who are the hungry people?

They are parents, like Janie, giving up their own food so their children can eat. Here’s Janie’s story, in her own words:

I’ve been working since I was 12 – started out with a paper route, and I did a youth program and then I worked in delis and restaurants, but then I got injured. Now I’m disabled. People don’t come onto this earth thinking they’re going to be poor.

I have a son, a sophomore in high school. This is a growing kid who’s constantly eating, wants something to eat all the time. And, sad to say, a lot of times it’s like, “Mom, there’s nothing to eat.” And that’s the worst thing. When your child is hungry and he can’t just go into the refrigerator or cabinet and get something to eat when he wants it. And a lot of times, I eat less and sometimes don’t even eat, just so he can have something. Even if he gets lunch at school he comes home and he is just hungry.

Who are the hungry people?

• 40% of the households the San Francisco Food Bank serves have at least one working adult.

• 84% of San Francisco Food Bank client families with children had at least one person who lost their job, received a pay cut or had work hours cut back in 2009.

• The number of San Franciscans on food stamps has grown by some 52 percent since 2008 – but still, only 39.5 percent of those who are eligible participate in the food stamp program.

• 24,000 households in San Francisco count on the food bank for groceries to feed their families.

What can you do to help?

• Leave a comment below, and Tyson will add 100 pounds of chicken to a truck headed for the San Francisco Food Bank – up to 30,000 pounds. Protein is the most-needed item for food bank clients – and the most difficult to obtain. (we promise we will not use your email address for marketing purposes)

• Make a donation. For every $1 donated, the food bank can distribute $6 worth of food.

• Volunteer. Help sort, re-pack and clean food that’s headed to the 200+ grocery pantries in San Francisco and Marin County.
• Look around you and remember: In a city overflowing with good food, every 5th person is hungry.