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Tyson donates protein to local families

by Janelle Jessen | May 26, 2021 at 1:05 p.m.
Janelle Jessen/Herald-Leader Lid Ryan of Tyson Foods loads a vehicle with boxes of food at the Siloam Springs Middle School on Saturday. Tyson gave away nearly 40,000 pounds of protein to Siloam Springs School District students and families as part of their 1 million meals program. Tyson and Cobb employees volunteered to load vehicles.

Tyson Foods gave away nearly 40,000 pounds of protein to Siloam Springs students and their families Saturday morning.

Volunteers from Tyson and Cobb-Vantress lined up to load approximately 1,000 cars at Siloam Springs Middle School over the course of a few hours, according to Tiffany Hansen, director of Bright Futures Siloam Springs. Each family left with 40 pounds of protein, said Sherri Johnson, a Tyson senior specialist in corporate responsibility.

The event was part of Tyson's donation of one million meals, or 240,000 pounds of food, to Northwest Arkansas School Districts, according to a press release. The company donated six truckloads of protein to school districts in Springdale, Siloam Springs, Bentonville, Fayetteville and Rogers to be distributed to students and their families.

Siloam Springs was the last distribution location, Johnson said. A second distribution event in Siloam Springs was planned for May 29, but all of the food was given away on Saturday, thanks to community participation and the efficiency of the volunteers, Hansen said.

The local food insecurity rate was already extremely high before covid-19, so Tyson decided to give back to local communities in response to the pandemic, Johnson said.

It is estimated that one in four children are experiencing food insecurity due to the economic impact of the pandemic, the press release states. Tyson is committed to relieving hunger in the U.S. and being a part of the solution to fighting hunger in Northwest Arkansas and beyond, it states.

"We're proud to be able to support our local school districts. No student should have to worry about where their next meal will come from," said Debra Vernon, senior director, corporate social responsibility for Tyson. "The protein donation will provide critical resources to those in need in our community."

More than 50 percent of students in Siloam Springs Schools qualify for free and reduced lunches, Hansen said. This week was a great time to be able to provide food to families because it is right before students get out of school for summer break and will be eating more meals at home, she said. Most of the products that were donated were precooked so students and their families can easily prepare them, she said.

"We appreciate Tyson has their one million meals goal, and we were thankful to be asked to be part of that," Hansen said.

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