Tyson Foods, Inc. has donated more food over the past year than ever in its 85-year history. More than 30 million pounds, or the equivalent of 120 million meals, were donated by the company during the last 12 months to fight hunger.
The food donations were part of more than $75 million the company invested to fulfill its commitment to address hunger insecurity, support its team members and improve the quality of life in the communities where it operates.
The company's COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund distributed grants and food donations to nonprofit organizations working to help people in plant communities across the United States. The company has also provided $6 million in financial assistance through its Helping Hands program directly to team members in need during the pandemic.
"Our company is proud to play a critical role in feeding the nation during this challenging time, and we recognize the importance of supporting our team members, their families and our plant communities," says John R. Tyson, chief sustainability officer, Tyson Foods. "We've focused resources where we can generate the most impact and support organizations doing heroic work at the local level."
The company provided nearly 20 million meals to Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, and its network of hundreds of community partners across the United States. Feed the Children and Tyson Foods have partnered for 18 years to provide protein to families, food banks, churches and community pantries.
"At Feed the Children, we work hard every day to ensure that as needs rise, children and their families continue to receive critical food and other resources," says Bob Thomas, chief corporate and external relations officer, Feed the Children. "We understand that 2020 has been a difficult year for many families and we are thankful to our partners at Tyson Foods for their generous gifts. High-quality protein is so important for growing children and families and this has allowed us to provide nutritious food to millions across the country."
This year, the partnership between Tyson Foods and Feed the Children served families in hundreds of communities ensuring that those who have not previously had to worry about their livelihoods before COVID-19 still had access to nutritious food. The organizations also partnered to provide much-needed food and disaster relief following Hurricane Laura.
The company has donated more than 30 million pounds of protein, valued at more than $65 million this year, and expanded hunger relief efforts to include product donations to the Tyson Community Pantry Program for local solutions to hunger.
A grant to Open Door Service Center in Sedalia, Mo., helped feed a community where one in five children go to bed hungry. Product donations from the local Tyson plant have also made an impact.
"Between our soup kitchen and food pantry, we distribute an average of nearly 114,000 pounds of food per month," says Jennifer Taylor, director of Development, Open Door Service Center. "Storage and management of this quantity would not be possible without Tyson's grant, nor would we have the large quantity like this without Tyson's donations."
Healthcare workers, summer feeding programs, mobile pantries and backpack programs were also supported in Tyson communities. More than 40 million meals went directly to team members working hard to feed the country.
Community grants, investments
One hundred and eighty-one rapid response grants were awarded for emergency support of nonprofit organizations near Tyson plant locations to help Tyson team members and the local community. The grants averaged $5,500 and were given in more than 120 plant communities. They focused on nonprofit partners providing emergency response efforts such as rent and utility assistance, hunger relief, health care, childcare, small business support and other economic recovery services.
Two grants were awarded to The Bridge of Storm Lake, Iowa, to address hunger relief and youth support services.
"The support from Tyson Foods included 218,000 pounds of protein donated since November of 2019 and 165,000 pounds since March 2020," says Shelly Rock, executive director and youth advocate, The Bridge of Storm Lake. "Our youth programs have been able to adapt in new and creative ways through the pandemic with the help of the sustainability grant. Over 90% of the youth we work with have a family connection to Tyson. We are grateful to be able to partner with Tyson to connect, support and empower youth (and their families) in the community of Storm Lake, Iowa."
The company partnered with DonorsChoose to give $1.8 million in grants to teachers in 60 of their plant communities. More than 1,900 projects were funded to assist 205,361 students in subjects like literacy, language and STEM. Many of the projects funded were for distance learning materials.
More than a half-million dollars were provided to local services for immigrant team members from the company's at-large grant program. Immigrant Connections was voted by Tyson team members as the fifth $1,000,000 recipient to help support social injustice initiatives.
Team member support
Because team members are Tyson's most valuable asset, more than $6 million to date has been provided through the company's Helping Hands program, which offers financial assistance directly to team members following a disaster or personal hardship. The COVID-19 global pandemic was no exception.
More than 4,000 team members received assistance of up to $1,500 to help pay rent, utilities, childcare or other emergency needs.
Team member giving
Funds were allocated to the company's Giving Together program to amplify the impact of giving from team members and encourage the support of a wide variety of non-profit organizations impacted by the pandemic. From March 1 to Sept. 1, the company matched nearly $400,000 in team member donations, up from $100,000 during the same period last year.
Tyson's on-site education program for frontline team members offers free classes in ESL, high school equivalency, U.S. citizenship and financial and digital literacy. The program successfully adapted to challenges this year by providing instruction in alternative settings. Instructors sent printed materials home, helped students access curriculum on their phones and provided Microsoft SurfaceGo tablets as part of a pilot program so students could continue learning remotely.
Fifty digital learning labs have been deployed and are ready for use when students return to classroom learning. Additions to available curriculum include new training videos and video curriculum for financial literacy.
The Upward Academy interpreting team supported human resources communication efforts by translating important information and offering in-language support for team members. Many frontline team members are new immigrants and come from dozens of different countries: up to 50 different countries may be represented within a single plant. Tyson Foods says it recognizes how critical each of them is to the work they do, and how they are at the heart of the achievements they share as a company.