In 2015, Tyson Foods pledged $50 million in cash and product donations by 2020 to fight hunger and is proud to announce it has exceeded that goal early by contributing more than $60 million for hunger relief in four years. The company’s contributions consist of hunger relief grants to nonprofit organizations and more than 5 million pounds 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. The company is also honoring 21 Homegrown Hunger Heroes that were nominated by Tyson Foods team members.
“Part of our company culture is doing what we say we will do,” said John R. Tyson, chief sustainability officer, Tyson Foods. “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,” said Tyson. “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, Indiana, 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, 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 pounds of produce in Central Indiana. Tyson Foods recently awarded Lawler $100,000 to expand the farm’s operations and ensure 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,” said Lawler. “But more importantly, it meant those who struggle with hunger weren’t receiving the produce we would typically be donating. 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. Lawler 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, North Carolina. 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 them 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,” said Kane. “We are incredibly thankful for Tyson Foods and can't wait to share many more meals and build a bigger community.”
The third honoree is Jasmine Crowe, founder and CEO of Goodr, a company that addresses food waste by leveraging blockchain technology to recover food and ensure delivery to nonprofits and those in need.