Donation to help buy equipment
Tyson Foods gives $152,000 to Northwest Arkansas Food Bank
BETHEL HEIGHTS — Tyson Foods has a long history of giving edible donations to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, but the food industry giant found another way to help the nonprofit fight hunger in the region.
The company donated $152,000 that will be used for new equipment, including an order picking system, two forklifts, four standard pallet jacks, six electric pallet jacks, 28 freezer racks and 200 blankets.
“Our intake and our distribution continue to grow, but we had some older equipment,” said Kent Eikenberry, president of the food bank. “So with the new equipment, like the forklifts,
now we have more than what we had before.”
The equipment will make it easier to unload and store food, reducing the amount of time it takes to unload trucks and load pallets full of food, according to a press release.
“This will let them operate more efficiently and better serve the agencies and more importantly the individuals that will need it,” said Derek Burleson, a Tyson spokesman.
The company has been a long-time supporter of the food bank, so it made a lot of sense to approve the grant, Burleson said.
“We’re proud to do our part to help great Feeding America partners like the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, who work on the front lines every day to end hunger,” Debra Vernon, Tyson’s senior director of corporate social responsibility, stated in the release. “We hope this investment will allow them to serve more people, more efficiently, and do so in a safe manner.”
The population boom in Northwest Arkansas has put strains on the food bank to meet the growing need in the community, Burleson said. Feeding America, a nationwide nonprofit network of food banks and pantries, estimates 67,500 people experienced hunger in Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties in 2015.
The food bank experienced growing pains over the past three years, Burleson said. Distribution increased by an average of 21 percent over that time.
Tyson gave 1.3 million pounds of meat to the food bank from October to June, but the money will allow the company to support the nonprofit in a different way, Burleson said. The equipment will help achieve the same
goal of feeding the hungry in Northwest Arkansas that their food donations have accomplished in the past, he said.
“It’s going to be key because so many organizations rely on the food bank to help serve the area,” Glenn Miller, local missions coordinator with Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, said about the grant.
Miller said the church, which operates a pantry and food program, serves about 1,000 meals a month. None of that would be possible without the food bank, he said.
“Any improvement or donation they get is going to ultimately help our neighbors in need,” he said.
Miller said the church, which operates a pantry and food program, serves about 1,000 meals a month.
Bob Price (right) and Maura Yates, along with 40 other interns and Wal-Mart workers, volunteer to clean and sort food Wednesday at the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank in Bethel Heights. Tyson Foods announced a $152,000 to the NWA Food Bank for new equipment to help the bank be more efficient in their operations.
Thomas Smilie, a Wal-Mart volunteer, uses a pallet jack Wednesday at the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank to move plates of boxed food in the warehouse.