In 2015, Springdale-based Tyson Foods set out to donate $50 million in cash and food products to fight hunger, with a goal of reaching that milestone by 2020. On Tuesday (Dec. 3), the company said it has surpassed the goal, with more than $60 million in contributions.
The company’s assistance consists of hunger relief grants to nonprofit organizations and more than 5 million pounds of protein donated to food banks, community pantries and disaster relief efforts. Tyson Foods officials said it was honoring 21 Homegrown Hunger Heroes and three Meals that Matter Heroes in conjunction with the goal achievement.
“Part of our company culture is doing what we say we will do,” said John R. Tyson, the company’s chief sustainability officer. “By setting this goal and achieving it in just four years, we’ve followed through on our commitment in a way that has impacted lives across the country.”
The three Meals that Matter Heroes were awarded a total of $160,000 to further their hunger relief missions.
“After meeting our three heroes, I was inspired by their passion, creativity and determination to address hunger,” Tyson said. “All three saw a challenge, took action and are making a difference in their communities and across the country. We’re honored to support their work.”
Those recipients include Jonathan Lawler, founder of Brandywine Creek Farms in Greenfield, Ind., who received $100,000 to further his efforts to fight hunger in that community. Since 2016, Brandywine Creek Farms donated 2.1 million pounds of produce in Central Indiana.
“Like many farmers throughout the country, the spring flooding caused delays in planting and ultimately a smaller harvest,” Lawler said. “But more importantly, it meant those who struggle with hunger weren’t receiving the produce we would typically be donating. This investment by Tyson Foods helped save our season and will make a difference in thousands of lives in Indiana.”
Lawler is opening a small grocery store in Indianapolis with the goal of bringing fresh, affordable food to one of the city’s largest food deserts. Lawler will also use the space to establish a pay-what-you-can café, a model for hunger relief he became interested in after meeting Maggie Kane, the second hero Tyson Foods recently honored.
Kane is the founder and executive director of A Place at the Table, the first pay-what-you-can café in downtown Raleigh, N.C. Kane was inspired to open the restaurant after spending six years advocating for those in Raleigh struggling with homelessness and hunger. The café opened in 2018 and has served thousands of people with a dignified, healthy and affordable meal regardless of means.
The café’s model allows patrons to pay the suggested price for their meal, pay what they can, or volunteer in the café in exchange for their meal.
Tyson Foods awarded Kane a $30,000 grant to help build a new commercial kitchen that will allow them to provide more meals to those in need.
“Tyson Foods’ generous gift will enable us to build our first commercial kitchen in the new space we’re expanding into next door, furthering our mission to provide community and good food for all, regardless of means. While we have served over 10,000 meals since opening in January 2018, the addition of a professional kitchen will help us realize our full potential of how A Place at the Table can serve the Raleigh, N.C. community,” said Kane. “We are incredibly thankful for Tyson Foods and can’t wait to share many more meals and build a bigger community.”
Tyson Foods also honored Jasmine Crowe, founder and CEO of Goodr, a company that addresses food waste by leveraging blockchain technology to recover food and ensure delivery to nonprofits and those in need.
Crowe launched Goodr after years of feeding people from her own kitchen and realizing hunger isn’t a scarcity issue, it’s a logistics issue. Tyson Foods awarded Crowe $30,000 to help establish the company’s charitable giving arm.
“We are so grateful for this honor, and this grant has allowed us to launch our foundation and serve nonprofits in our community,” Crowe said. “Our foundation will focus on strengthening our communities through our beloved nonprofit partners. We’ll provide micro-grants for kitchen equipment and organics recycling programs to truly close the loop on food waste. We’ll also offer free ServeSafe training to nonprofit chefs, healthy cooking demos and host our pop-up grocery stores in new markets as we launch across the nation.”
The 21 Homegrown Hunger Heroes included six people from Arkansas who spearheaded hunger relief products in their communities. Each recipient was awarded $2,500 to further those projects
Homegrown Hunger Hero recipients in Arkansas
- Michael Bolin – Pantry Organizer, Green Forest
- Moises Chan – Tyson Foods Chaplain, Springdale
- Danielle Duggan – Arkansas Tech University, Russellville
- Raymond Holt – Second Baptist Compassion Center, Clarksville
- Chuck and Pattie Jarrett, Cup of Love Food Pantry, Eureka Springs
- Pam Sarnat – St. Paul’s Episcopal Community Meal Program, Fayetteville
- Rosa Rosario-Amaro – Pantry Organizer, New Holland, Pa.
- Barbara Aument – Backpack Ministries, Monroe, N.C.
- Cindy Bosley – Community Meal Program, Storm Lake, Iowa
- Stephanie Brown – Food Bank of Reno County, Hutchinson, Kan.
- Victor Espinoza – Pantry Organizer, Logansport, Ind.
- Lisa Hamerlinck and Betsey Wanderscheid, North High School Food Pantry, Sioux City, Iowa
- Ray Haught – Tyson Foods Chaplain, Monett, Mo.
- Tony Holland – Pantry Organizer, Albertville, Ala.
- Valeria Hyde – Trudy’s Kids Café, Union City, Tenn.
- David Santillan – Breaking Bread, Robards, Ky.
- Kate Schaumberg – Our Kids Program, Seymour, Wis.
- Alexandria Severs – Backpack Program, Monett, Mo.
- Megan Trout – Homeless Shelter, Chicago, Ill.
- Michael Wennekamp – Two Rivers YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, Joslin, Ill.
- Ken Willis – Pantry Organizer, Glen Allen, Va.