Providing food, shelter and support to Atlanta’s homeless community is a never-ending task for Julie Stokes and the staff of Atlanta Mission, but Georgia- based Wayne Farms just made it a little easier with a donation of nearly 6,000 pounds of tasty, fresh chicken. Stokes is VP of client services for the organization, heading up the staff and volunteers that provide needed services like meals, shelter, counseling and life skills classes to thousands of Atlanta’s and North Georgia’s least fortunate citizens.
Georgia-based Wayne Farms has a long history of community service, so when Randy Keene, vice president of Fresh Sales got the call from Atlanta Mission explaining the need, he was quick to route the request to company officials and get fresh, premium chicken on the mission’s menu. “Atlanta Mission is taking care of people that need help--no matter how they got there, they need shelter and nourishment and we’re proud to lend a helping hand,” said Keene. The company just delivered 146 cases of chicken thighs to Atlanta Mission and timing couldn’t be better as the organization reports unprecedented increases in the costs of providing assistance to people in need.
The mission recently moved into a new centralized facility, enabling food service preparation in one kitchen location rather than four. “We’re working hard to be efficient and find more cost- effective ways to provide service, but our food costs have gone up 40 percent,” said Stokes, also noting the impact of COVID-19 on both donations and volunteer availability. The restaurants, stadiums, churches and other organizations that have been so supportive in the past just aren’t there now. Stokes went on to explain that those cuts, combined with corporate cutbacks, dwindling volunteer numbers and other factors have combined to impact their bottom line. Now three tons of premium Wayne Farms chicken is in the freezer, and the kitchen staff is already making plans to put more chicken on the menu. “This donation will make a tremendous difference when we need it most,” noted Stokes. “Our team is so excited and getting really creative in the kitchen—chicken is so versatile and there are about 25 different ways we can prepare it for our clients.” In addition to the mission’s Atlanta operation, the mission also sent some of the chicken to The Potter’s House, their men’s recovery center in Jefferson.
Wayne Farms has a stated mission of sustainable operations under its “Amazing Starts With Me” organizational tenant. Focused on producing quality products, responsible stewardship of resources, humane treatment of animals, support of employees and championing communities, the company has a long history of assisting local agencies like Atlanta Mission. Community support in the form of financial aid, food products and volunteer labor is central to the company’s operating ethos, including assistance for local social service and community health organizations and national groups like American Cancer Society, Relay for Life, American Red Cross and others.