Dona­tion to help buy equip­ment

Tyson Foods gives $152,000 to North­west Arkansas Food Bank

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - ALEXAN­DER NI­COLL

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.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/SPENCER TIREY

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.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/SPENCER TIREY

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.

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