Tyson Foods and Feeding America announced on Sept. 26 the results of a two-year project focused on empowering local food banks to develop innovative animal protein sourcing programs to address hunger on the community level.
The Tyson Foods Protein Innovation Fund provided $1 million to 10 Feeding America food banks in nine states to fund protein sourcing projects that have the potential to be scaled and replicated across the Feeding America network.
“For the 40 million people facing hunger in the U.S., it’s not only important for Feeding America to help provide enough food to meet basic needs, but also to provide more nutritious food,” said Matt Knott, president of Feeding America. “We are grateful for Tyson Foods’ continued partnership with Feeding America and their dedication to increasing access to protein-rich meals that many food insecure families need to have a well-balanced diet.”
The investment yielded more than 1.1 million pounds of protein sourced and distributed in the first two years of the project or 4.5 million servings. “We knew our food banks had innovative ideas about how to help our hungry neighbors access more protein,” said Matt Pakula, senior manager, corporate social responsibility Tyson Foods. “The protein innovation fund grants made it possible for them to experiment and make their food banks more agile to better meet the needs of those struggling with food insecurity.”
Highlights include $175,000 awarded to the Arkansas Food Bank in Little Rock, Arkansas, which served as the lead food bank in a collaborative model that constructed a centralized, cold repacking center. Meat and poultry donations, as well as frozen produce, are repackaged into smaller portions and distributed to Feeding America food banks across the state.
“Thanks to the Tyson Protein Innovation Fund, we are able to meet the needs of not only the people in our service area but the needs of 515,000 hungry Arkansans and the partner agencies that serve them,” says Arkansas Foodbank CEO Rhonda Sanders. “The Repackaging Center helps maximize the amount of donated product we receive in order to reduce both systemic food waste and costs to ourselves and our members.”
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma was awarded $50,000 to fund an on-site repack room and secure FFA donations to create protein snack sticks distributed in backpacks to food insecure children. Nearly a quarter of a million pounds of protein was sourced as a result of this project.
“We are so thankful to Tyson Foods and its support in helping us feed Oklahomans living with hunger,” said Katie Fitzgerald, CEO of the Regional Food Bank. “The grant from Tyson Foods helped the Regional Food Bank provide healthy sources of protein to chronically hungry children, seniors living on fixed incomes and hardworking families struggling to make ends meet.”
In Florida, Feeding Tampa Bay was awarded $50,000 to hire a full-time staff member whose main function is identifying and pursuing sources of wasted food in their local supply chain. As a result, more than 430,000 pounds of protein was rescued and redirected back into the community.
Other project highlights include:
Northern Illinois Food Bank – Geneva, Ill. – 108,049 pounds of protein was sourced by partnering with a local processor.
Central Pennsylvania Food Bank – Harrisburg, Pa. – 20,000 pounds of protein was sourced by increasing the food bank’s visibility to the local agricultural community at county fairs and developing marketing materials to promote the food bank as an option for livestock donation.
St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance – Phoenix, Ariz. – 113,407 pounds of protein was sourced by partnering with a local processor to distribute ground beef to food bank clients.
Northern Illinois Food Bank – Geneva, Ill. – 212,477 pounds of protein was sourced by establishing a relationship with a local protein donor and was shared with other Feeding America food banks in the region.
Harvesters – The Community Food Network, Kansas City, Mo. – Upon receiving USDA certification in May 2018, 37,848 pounds of protein has been sourced through a repack room that allows the food bank to accept donations of bulk meat, fish and poultry they would have had to decline in the past.
West Michigan Food Bank, Comstack Park, Mich. – 3,833 pounds of protein has been sourced through the “Grand Champion Giving” program that connects farmers, ranchers and others willing to donate animals.
Philabundance, Philadelphia, Pa. – An ongoing pilot project is estimated to add 2 million pounds of protein to the network by rescuing protein through import and export channels at the port.
*One serving= ¼ pound of protein.