In 2015, Tyson Foods pledged $50 million in cash and product donations by 2020 to fight hunger. This week, the company proudly announced that it had not only met the goal but exceeded it early by contributing more than $60 million for hunger relief in just four years.
The company’s contributions consist of hunger relief grants to nonprofit organizations and more than 5 million lb. of protein donated to food banks, community pantries and disaster relief efforts.
In honor of achieving and exceeding its "50 in 5" goal, the company is honoring three Meals that Matter Heroes, individuals who are dedicated to fighting hunger in a variety of ways. It is also honoring 21 Homegrown Hunger Heroes who were nominated by Tyson Foods team members.
“Part of our company culture is doing what we say we will do,” Tyson chief sustainability officer John R. Tyson said. “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.”
The first Meals that Matter Hero honored by Tyson Foods is Jonathan Lawler, a produce farmer in Greenfield, Ind., who established Brandywine Creek Farms as a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting hunger in central Indiana. Lawler is also focused on creating urban farms in Indianapolis, Ind.; educating the community on agriculture, and providing fresh produce to the city’s food deserts.
Since 2016, Brandywine Creek Farms has donated approximately 2.1 million lb. of produce in central Indiana.
Tyson Foods recently awarded Lawler $100,000 to expand the farm’s operations and ensure that its mission remains sustainable for the near future.
“Like many farmers throughout the country, the spring flooding caused delays in planting and, ultimately, a smaller harvest, but more importantly, it meant those who struggle with hunger weren’t receiving the produce we would typically be donating,” Lawler said. "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. He 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 the restaurant 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,” Kane said. “We are incredibly thankful for Tyson Foods and can't wait to share many more meals and build a bigger community.”
The third hero is Jasmine Crowe, founder and chief executive officer 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 was inspired to launched Goodr after years of feeding people from her own kitchen and realizing that hunger isn’t a scarcity issue but 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.”
Tyson Foods also awarded the Homegrown Hunger Heroes $2,500 each for their individual hunger relief projects in their communities. To highlight the inspirational work happening at the local level in Tyson communities, the company invested a total of $52,500 in 21 different hunger relief projects.