Art for Food’s Sake

By Ed Nicholson    

 Dede Peters had an idea.  Dede, owner of Fayetteville’s ddp gallery, decided to recruit artists from among the community she had helped support to create works of art on and with grocery bags.  The works were then sold, with the major portion of the proceeds going to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank

     Dede called us to see if we would be interested in getting involved.  We thought the idea was innovative and engaging, and offered to match dollars raised with in-kind donations. 

     I think it’s a great example of someone creatively applying the resources at their disposal to address the issue.  You dont’ have to be rich.  You don’t have to be big or famous. You just need to have a will and a heart.  As our friends at Share Our Strength remind us,  everyone has a strength to share. 

Good news

By Elise Mitchell

As Ed mentioned in his post earlier this week, the donation last Saturday to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank received a lot of positive media coverage and helped bring to light the hard work of many volunteers.  We’ve posted some of those stories here from our local TV stations KFSM, KHOG and KNWA and appreciate their coverage of the event.

While sometimes it can be tough to get media attention for good news, we’ve actually found media to be very receptive to our outreach for Tyson’s donations to food banks around the country.  Our guess is that increasingly, hunger is newsworthy, which is both good and bad, of course.  Good because so many people are actively trying to help those in need; bad because the need continues to grow as a result of the economic stress people are enduring. 

Yes, we’ve been fortunate to earn our share of coverage, but our ultimate goal in doing this is to continue to shine the spotlight on the cause itself.  Hopefully, from greater awareness will come greater resources.  With all of us working together as well as greater attention brought to the fight against hunger, we can continue to make a difference.

Elise Mitchell is the President and CEO of Mitchell Communications.

Art of the Cart 9–What is a food bank to do?



By Susan Brockway

I pose this question before I even begin, because unlike one or two years ago, things are not as easy, and need a quick solution.  I am a board member of a Feeding America member food bank.  My fellow board members, staff, volunteers and I are constantly looking for ways to bring more food into the pipeline.  We have increased our distribution by 1 million pounds in one year and will most likely see another increase this year.  Some would say “great job”.  I say this is a recipe for trouble and that we need to pay close attention to the trends. 
It is expected that we will see an increase of approximately 40% in the number of agencies and individuals needing food from community food banks.  Is anyone but me questioning why this is a dangerous trend?  While we certainly are working hard at  meeting the needs of growing numbers of families, food banks and agencies were never meant to take the place of retailers, gardens, co-ops and markets in supplying food. 
Some would say that food banks have been forced to become a retailer of sorts, making food choices and purchasing food to keep up with the increasing demand.  When people and organizations who have traditionally been food bank donors are forced by the economy to be food bank recipients, what are  we to do?
Please tell me you are not satisfied with the status quo.  Let’s open some dialogue about why most states are struggling to provide an easier venue for individuals to apply and qualify for food stamps? We are a food rich nation, how are we managing this asset? 

Susan Brockway is Sr. Community Relations Manager at Tyson Foods, deeply involved in the company’s hunger relief efforts.  She is also Board President of the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank.

photo Creative Commons, Mike Licht

Collaborating to fight hunger



A Tyson/LULAC donation in San Antonio

By Ed Nicholson     

For the next few days, northwest Arkansas will be hosting the national board of directors of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) for their quarterly meeting.  They’ll spend some of their time at Tyson headquarters tomorrow, part  of which will be devoted to a truckload food donation to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank.

Tyson and LULAC have had a partnership with Feeding America (formerly named America’s Second Harvest) for two years, in which food donations are made to Feeding America food banks that serve Hispanic communities. 

For many people, their idea of "food bank" is where a hungry person goes to get a meal.  Those in hunger relief know that’s not how the system works.  True food banks typically serve as distribution warehouses for a network that more than often includes hundreds of agencies–food pantries, feeding operations, child and senior care facilities–that in turn work on the ground to meet the needs of those at risk of hunger.

One of the goals of the partnership is to allow local LULAC councils to become catalysts in creating relationships between agencies serving those at risk of hunger in local communities and the Feeding America food banks.  Most of the time the LULAC councils are closely connected with agencies serving Hispanic communities. However–for a variety of reasons–many of these agenices aren’t yet aware of the great potential in a relationship with their local food bank.

Tomorrow morning, the LULAC national leadership will join Tyson senior managers in making a joint donation of a truckload of food to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank. In turn a part of that donation will be specifically targeted to agencies that serve Hispanic communities in northwest Arkansas.  The local LULAC council, which is already helping introduce agencies to the food bank, will be on hand as a critical part of that donation.

We believe this is another example of how groups working together can make the emergency food distribution system stronger, to serve those who are truly in need.

Putting it all together to feed hungry people

Here’s a collection of video from the 2009 Lift Up America donation with the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.   89 student athletes, 39 northwest Arkansas non-profit agencies, a 35 lb. truckload of Tyson products came together on one clear, cold Ozark Saturday morning.  It was fun and rewarding.