Springdale-based meat giant Tyson Foods and the regional nonprofit Northwest Arkansas Food Bank have been partners for 29 years to combat hunger in Northwest Arkansas, and the organizations recognized a significant milestone Friday (Aug. 3).
Tyson Foods has now donated 7 million pounds of protein to the food bank, according to a news release. The company hit the mark in the past nine months by donating 1.3 million pounds of product worth nearly $2 million.
“I’ve said this before, but I cannot say it enough,” said Kent Eikenberry, president and CEO of the Food Bank. “Every time I see a Tyson truck pull into our parking lot with a load of protein I cannot control my smile. On behalf of the 70,000-plus food insecure persons in Northwest Arkansas who we serve, I want to extend my deepest appreciation to the team members of Tyson who have made this magnificent donation possible through their hard work. Please remember that because of you and your efforts, someone will eat today.”
The Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, founded in 1988, annually distributes more than 11.5 million pounds of food to citizens in Benton, Washington, Carroll and Madison counties.
Representatives from Tyson Foods, the food bank and local partner agencies celebrated this milestone at a press conference at the food bank’s headquarters in Bethel Heights. The food bank is an affiliate of Feeding America.
“We’ve been formally involved in hunger relief since 2000 and during that time the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank has been a vital partner in the fight against hunger,” said Debra Vernon, senior director of corporate social responsibility for Tyson Foods. “We know we can’t solve hunger alone and it’s organizations like the food bank that are truly making a difference in our communities and for our neighbors in need.”
Mike Williams, the food bank’s director of development, said 7 million pounds is equal to more than 200 tractor trailer loads of protein, or more than 28 million servings.
Tyson Foods has also announced a $152,154 grant to the food bank that will be used to improve operational efficiency. The grant will cover the cost of a new order picker, two new forklifts, four standard pallet jacks, six electric pallet jacks, 28 freezer racks and 200 freezer blankets.
Once the equipment is operational, it is expected to save the food bank more than $50,000 in the first year.
Among all protein processors, Tyson Foods is the largest donor of meat and poultry to Feeding America and its network of food banks. Tyson Foods has been an active participant in the fight against hunger since 2000, donating more than 100 million pounds of protein. In 2015, Tyson Foods pledged $50 million in cash or in-kind donations by 2020 to fight hunger, with a special focus on innovative initiatives at the local level.
In 2016, the company donated $12.5 million for hunger relief.