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.


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.

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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.


Double-take on a familiar face: My reintroduction to Tyson Foods

I am now in my fifth month of my internship with Tyson Foods. To be completely honest the only thing I knew about Tyson when I began this internship was that Tyson produced chicken and that Tyson was a great employment provider for many people I knew growing up. Many of my own family members worked their first jobs in the chicken production plants.

Tyson Team Members with LULAC PresidentIn the four months I been here I have learned so much more about Tyson Foods and quite honestly I was blown away by all the work Tyson puts into giving back to the community. I personally never experienced hunger, but like many families in a tough economy, at times money gets tight and we all have to cut back on spending. Thankfully my parents were always working hard to make sure we always had meat on the table, not just bread but meat. My father in his early years was a butcher and his father before him was a butcher too; the importance of protein as a part of a daily meal was always very clear to them.

On my very first week of my internship with Tyson Foods I was sent to Las Vegas. There the company had paired up with LULAC  (League of United Latin American Citizens) and was making a donation of protein to the local food bank.  The donation was of 38,400 pounds of protein! This donation was to feed more than 100,000 Nevadans fighting hunger.

When I came back to work, the Tyson team was gearing up for yet another donation and more work around creating awareness about food insecurity, and also continuing to giving more help to Moore, Oklahoma. Little by little I discovered a new face of Tyson, the human, caring face of Tyson Foods.

My parents have always inculcated the values of being a good neighbor and giving back. To me giving back is a much greater gift. When you give back to the community you are making a change, a visible, tangible, change. Through this internship I have learned that Tyson Foods isn’t just about chicken, or beef or pork for that matter; it’s about people.

KNOW Hunger Nashville

KNOW Hunger Nashville kicked off recently with Tyson Foods Vice President of Customer Development Paul Davis, at podium, joining, from left, Dr. Noel Manyindo of the National Urban League, State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, Patricia Stokes of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee and Jaynee Day of Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee for a food donation and press conference.

KNOW Hunger Nashville kicked off recently with Tyson Foods Vice President of Customer Development Paul Davis, at podium, joining, from left, Dr. Noel Manyindo of the National Urban League, State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, Patricia Stokes of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee and Jaynee Day of Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee for a food donation and press conference.

30,000 Reasons to Love KNOW Hunger Nashville

NASHVILLE, TN – A new partnership called KNOW Hunger Nashville launched on Aug. 15 in “Music City” with the donation of 30,000 pounds of protein to the regional Feeding America food bank.

Tyson Foods is proud to partner with two of Middle Tennessee’s best organizations – the Urban League and Second Harvest Food Bank – for this two-year campaign that aims to raise awareness about hunger and nutrition. The entire press conference may be viewed here.

Piloted in 2012 by the National Urban League and Tyson Foods in Jackson, Miss., the program comes to Middle Tennessee because of the area’s high food insecurity rates, proximity to Tyson facilities and strong local Urban League and food bank affiliates.

The Mississippi pilot saw 115,000 pounds of food donated, twin nutrition fairs in Vicksburg, Miss., and Jackson, Miss., a proliferation of activism and an increase in agency participation with the Mississippi Food Network.

In cooperation with Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University, the Nashville effort will include a variety of initiatives such as wellness fairs, Supplemental Nutrition Aassistance Program education, food donations, nutrition programming and the development of a new digital tool for stretching food budgets.

Nashville may seem an odd choice on first blush. Known for its rich history, music celebrities and pro sports, Tennessee’s capital conjures images of mansions and southern glam.

The truth though is that although two thirds of people nationally don’t think hunger is a problem in their community, one in four Americans worry about putting food on the table. That’s where KNOW Hunger comes in.

Raising awareness about the many nuances surrounding hunger will be the cornerstone of the endeavor.

Nashville’s Davidson County has a food insecurity rate of 18 percent, meaning about 112,000 of its residents frequently lack access to adequate food. Statewide, more than 400,000 families in Tennessee face food insecurity.

About 50 leaders attended the recent kickoff including representatives from all of the partners plus local influencers. State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, credited fellow speaker Dr. Noel Manyindo, a medical doctor and the NUL’s Senior Director of Health & Quality of Life, with articulating out how disproportionately children, seniors and minorities are affected by hunger.

“Children cannot perform at their highest level if they go to bed hungry and report back to school the next day hungry,” Gilmore said. “We want them to be at their best so that they can be the brightest students and Tennessee can rise to the top in every single area.”

Jaynee Day, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, said although many people believe the nation has recovered from recession, food banks continue to experience an uptick in need.

“This partnership will not only help Second Harvest continue to raise awareness of hunger issues, but it will also provide a valuable resource for individuals and families to learn how to access food assistance programs and provide more nutritious meals at home.”

Patricia Stokes, president and CEO of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee, said her organization is excited to add its voice and track record of success to the cause.

“It is our hope that this endeavor will strengthen our community and move individuals and families who are health challenged toward improved health and those who are food insecure toward greater security,” Stokes said.

The Urban League of Middle Tennessee will spearhead local efforts. Some of the more than 4,000 people Tyson Foods employs in Tennessee will also be involved in volunteer efforts along with assistance from local Urban League affiliate Guild and Young Professional auxiliary members.

Tyson Foods has been active in hunger relief more many years, donating more than donated 93 million pounds of protein to food banks other relief agencies since 2000.

The Twitter hashtag for the campaign is #KNOWHunger.

About the National Urban League
The National Urban League (www.nul.org) is a historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization dedicated to economic empowerment in historically underserved urban communities. Founded in 1910 and headquartered in New York City, the National Urban League has improved the lives of more than two million people nationwide through direct service programs that are implemented locally by its 95 Urban League affiliates in 300 communities across 36 states and the District of Columbia. The organization also conducts public policy research and advocacy activities from its Washington, DC bureau. The National Urban League, a BBB-accredited organization, has an A-rating from Charity Watch and a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, placing it in the top 10 percent of all U.S. charities for adhering to good governance, fiscal responsibility and other best practices.

About Tyson Foods
Tyson Foods, Inc.(NYSE: TSN), with headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas, is one of the world’s largest processors and marketers of chicken, beef and pork, the second-largest food production company in the Fortune 500 and a member of the S&P 500. The company was founded in 1935 by John W. Tyson, whose family has continued to be involved with son Don Tyson leading the company for many years and grandson John H. Tyson serving as the current Chairman of the Board of Directors. Tyson Foods produces a wide variety of protein-based and prepared food products and is the recognized market leader in the retail and foodservice markets it serves. The company provides products and services to customers throughout the United States and approximately 130 countries. It has approximately 115,000 Team Members employed at more than 400 facilities and offices in the United States and around the world. Through its Core Values, Code of Conduct and Team Member Bill of Rights, Tyson Foods strives to operate with integrity and trust and is committed to creating value for its shareholders, customers and Team Members. The company also strives to be faith-friendly, provide a safe work environment and serve as stewards of the animals, land and environment entrusted to it.

About Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee
Organized in 1978, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee is a private, not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization. Second Harvest’s mission is to feed hungry people and work to solve hunger issues in our community. Second Harvest distributes food and other products to approximately 400 nonprofit partner agencies in 46 counties in Middle and West Tennessee. Our partners include food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, childcare facilities, senior centers, group homes, and youth enrichment programs. For more information on Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and its programs, please visit www.secondharvestmidtn.org.

Day 2 update from Moore, OK: Tyson Foods #MealsThatMatter

Jason Betts, Tyson Foods #MealsThatMatter volunteer

Tyson Team Member Jason Betts is a nurse manager at the Tyson Foods plant in Noel, Missouri

Tyson Team Member Jason Betts (pictured at left) is a nurse manager at the Tyson Foods plant in Noel, Missouri. He is volunteering in our disaster relief efforts in Moore, Oklahoma. Jason said it means a lot to him to be working in the Meals That Matter program because Tyson actually fed him when he was displaced in the Joplin tornado two years ago. He’s grateful to be working for Tyson Foods, where he has an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those affected by the May 20 tornado.

Live reports from the field today from Jeff Wood, Community Relations manager at Tyson Foods:
Jeff says, “This morning started off with storm alarms sounding and severe thunderstorms with hail. We had delayed everyone an hour already, but the storm is still going on. We battened down the hatches before leaving, so we’ll be back at it as soon as possible. Sherman, Texas, team is already on site, taking cover. I don’t imagine there will be breakfast service based on radar.

Approaching 1,200 people served so far today with increasing walk-up demand, plus neighborhood distribution. We are working with national guard now. We’re preparing and serving burgers, chicken wraps, steak sandwiches, and hot dogs. Expecting another big day. We have recruited volunteers to help meet demand.”

NOTE: The storms moved on, and the Meals That Matter team is back at it.

How to get involved
We need volunteers to help deliver meals! Come see us at Southgate Baptist Church, 740 SW 4th St, Moore, Oklahoma. Ask for Pat!

If you’re unable to join us in person, you can always donate to the Red Cross, too.


Per media reports:

“Tyson served a free lunch to about 4,000 people Wednesday in front of Southgate Baptist Church on Southwest Fourth Street, said Jeffrey Wood, manager of community relations for the company.

Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman said that between lunch and dinner the company served 5,000 people Wednesday…

‘This is the single largest nongovernmental food operation that I know of that’s operating in the city of Moore,’ said Randy Terrill, a former Oklahoma state representative who was helping as a volunteer.’”


Tyson Foods #MealsThatMatter Team is on the ground serving meals in #Oklahoma this morning!

Tyson Foods disaster relief team has set up camp and is serving food this morning in Moore, Oklahoma, immediately following this week’s devastating tornado. We’re here to support and feed local residents, emergency crews and volunteers helping with the recovery efforts.

UPDATE – evening 5/22/2013:

Over 5,000 meals served today!
TysonFoods - evening 5-22.collage

UPDATE – afternoon 5/22/2013:

This afternoon we took some additional photos from folks gathering for lunch at the Tyson Foods disaster relief area.

Top Left: Easton Evans, intern, UofA double major in business and poultry science. Third day as intern and helping out with relief efforts in Moore Ok. Bottom: Saba Naseem, a recent UofA grad who came to volunteer, and Mike Gerleman, Tyson Foods complex manager of Sherman Texas prepping breakfast.

Top Left: Easton Evans, intern, UofA double major in business and poultry science. Third day as intern and helping out with relief efforts in Moore Ok.
Bottom: Saba Naseem, a recent UofA grad who came to volunteer, and Mike Gerleman, Tyson Foods complex manager of Sherman Texas prepping breakfast.

See full Tyson Foods press release regarding Moore, Oklahoma, disaster relief efforts.
Short URL for this blog post: http://bit.ly/MealsThatMatter_Oklahoma