Education, hunger relief, housing and other community needs are the focus of $500,000 in community grants from Tyson Foods to six non-profit organizations in West Tennessee. The company announced Oct. 17 that the grants are focused in the City of Humboldt and Gibson County, where earlier this year the company broke ground on a new chicken processing facility.

A group of Gibson County leaders collaborated with Tyson Foods representatives to provide guidance and feedback on where the grants would provide the most value in their community.

“These investments are another example of our commitment to the people and community of Humboldt and Gibson County,” said Doug Ramsey, group president of Poultry for Tyson Foods. “From a focus on education and hunger relief, to better understanding the potential long-term needs around housing and child care, we’re identifying where help is needed most and how we can best address those challenges.”

The company’s efforts to build stronger communities through education include a $175,000 grant to Humboldt City Schools to purchase 280 laptop computers for use by high school students.

“We are delighted to partner with Tyson Foods to put a computer into the hands of every high school student, making their education more engaging and positively transforming the way teaching and learning takes place,” said Dr. Versie R. Hamlett, Humboldt Director of Schools. “The great potential in this long-range investment is in fostering a culture of student engagement in learning and providing a learning platform that will develop and enhance post-secondary opportunities for all students.”

In addition, a $150,000 grant was awarded to DonorsChoose.org for Gibson County teachers to apply for microgrants to help fund new projects or curriculum for their classrooms. Teachers can apply for grants of up to $1,000 each, with special consideration to projects related to agriculture and/or character development.

A representative from each of the following districts will be identified by the end of October and will begin communicating next steps to the teachers in their district: Humboldt City School District, Gibson County School District, Trenton Special School District, Bradford Special School District, and Milan Special School District.

The University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services (UTCIS) was awarded $115,000 to coordinate research addressing housing and childcare availability and affordability in Gibson County and surrounding counties.

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“We look forward to working with Tyson Foods and West Tennessee communities to gain a better understanding of this issue and seek possible solutions,” said Paul Jennings, UTCIS Executive Director.

“Affordable housing and childcare are critical components of workforce development and can impact both economic growth and quality of life.”

Building on Tyson Foods’ long-standing commitment to address hunger insecurity, $25,000 was awarded to Helping Hand Pantry in Humboldt, to further enable the pantry to provide daily meals, groceries, clothing and assistance with rent or utilities to the homeless and disadvantaged in the Gibson County area.

“After 40 years of feeding people who don't have enough to eat or assisting them financially to help pay utility bills, we have recently struggled to maintain our level of service to the community,” said Harry Davidson, Helping Hand Pantry. “The Tyson Foods grant will allow our doors to remain open and we can continue to feed more than 700 families a month.”

The Gibson County Sherriff’s Department was also awarded $20,000 for the purchase of a new ATV to assist in patrolling community events.

The Boys and Girls Club in Humboldt was awarded $15,000 to renovate its “Teen Room” with new paint and flooring, televisions, gaming equipment and gaming stations, as well as pool tables and table tennis games.

Tyson Foods recently named Noel White as its president and CEO.