Tyson Foods, Inc., who has a history of feeding first responders and survivors in the aftermath of disasters such as 9/11 and the tornadoes and flooding of 2011, unveiled a special mobile feeding unit equipped to enhance the company’s disaster relief efforts.
"Tyson has always been very good at responding to disasters, typically, by sending teams out to cook for people who have been affected and who are working in relief capacity," said Ed Nicholson, Director of Community Relations, Tyson Foods.
The 53-foot-semi-trailer serves as a central supply unit at disaster sites.
With the exception of a grill, the 'Meals that Matter' unit has everything needed to be a fully functioning cooking site.
The trailer has enough refrigerated space to store up to 20,000 pounds of meat.
According to a Tyson press release, it bears the new name of Tyson Foods’ program, “Meals that Matter,” which reflects the company’s long-standing practice of feeding disaster survivors and relief workers.
"We have found out that helping when people are really in need when there's a time of disaster or something that it's much appreciated and it's something that our people really want to do,” said Nicholson. “We couldn't stop them!"
With the exception of a grill, the “Meals that Matter” unit has everything needed to set up and run a cooking site including: full refrigeration, tents and lights, sanitation equipment, cooking and serving supplies, a generator, hydraulic lift and even a Wi-Fi hot spot for internet connections via satellite.
When an emergency strikes, Tyson deploys the mobile unit from Northwest Arkansas. More than 40 Tyson plants are capable of sending volunteers, and grills, to meet the mobile unit at disaster sites.
According to a press release, Tyson Foods will work closely with the American Red Cross during future disaster relief efforts. In February, Tyson signed a formal statement of collaboration with the Red Cross, agreeing to become a Disaster Responder Partner of the organization.
The release also said, on average, Tyson is involved in responding to four to five major disasters each year. In recent years, the company has provided between $300,000 and $500,000 annually in food and financial support to disaster relief.
"The people who work in our operations and the people who work in our transportation group have a great heart for this and it is really inspiring to work around them," said Nicholson.
The disaster relief mobile feeding unit responded to last year's tornado in Cincinnati as well as the one in Joplin where volunteers provided more than 120,000 pounds of food to survivors and relief workers.
According to a release from Tyson Foods, since 2000, the company has donated 86 million pounds of much-needed protein to hundreds of food banks, food pantries and relief agencies in 48 states. In 2011 Tyson helped fund the largest and most comprehensive study ever conducted on attitudes and perceptions of hunger. The study found that one in four Americans worry about having enough money to put food on the table.