Tyson Brings in Food Donations with Employee Challenge

tyson food hunger

Do you think you could feed your family on $100 a week? For many in Northwest Arkansas that’s a reality. Thursday, employees at Tyson Foods took that challenge in a food competition to raise awareness about hunger.

Tyson employees, including CEO Donnie Smith, scoured the grocery store aisles buying a week’s worth of groceries to feed a family of four for just $100.

“I was keeping a running total in my mind,” Smith said of Tyson’s SNAP Challenge Event. “As we put something in the cart, [we'd think] well wait a minute, what does that mean later?”

One hundred dollars a week is what a family of four receives in the government supplemental nutrition assistance program, or SNAP, what once was called the food stamps program. More than one in seven Americans receives SNAP benefits.

“It always helps, I think, to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” Smith says. “And while many of us may not struggle each week in being able to feed our families, 15 percent of Americans do every week.”

After shopping, each team returned to Tyson headquarters Thursday with what they bought.  A panel from various food giving agencies looked at how they used the money, the foods’ nutritional value and creativity.

Tyson joined with employees of Elanco, a food service company in Indiana, in the SNAP challenge. And Elanco’s CEO says the lessons go far beyond this room.

“I will tell you today our meetings on what we’re going to do next… are going to have a little bit more of an edge,” says Elanco President Jeff Simmons. “A little bit more of a reality of saying there’s urgency here.”

The food purchased for the challenge goes to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank. But for the companies, the challenge was more about getting out the message on hunger.

“The more we can do to raise awareness I think the more people will be involved in helping solve this problem,” Smith says. That’s the main takeaway from today, he says.

In addition to the food going to the food bank, Elanco made a matching donation of $600.