FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — Tyson Foods made a substantial donation Thursday (July 25) to make sure a River Valley children’s shelter has food on the table that kids in need will enjoy.
Tyson Foods has donated almost $200,000 to the Fort Smith Children’s Emergency Shelter over the last four years through its "Happy Plate" program. On Thursday, the shelter received $45,000.
“In the four years that Tyson has been supporting us, what we have found is that hungry kids are eating. Before their funding, hungry kids were staying hungry because the food just wasn’t that good,” Director of Development Ashley Fitzhugh said.
Fitzhugh said this partnership allows the shelter to cook meals the kids will actually enjoy.
“They also have a part in designing the menu, and there are times when we get to go out to restaurants which teaches them life skills on how to order from a menu, on how to behave in a restaurant," Fitzhugh said. "So, it goes further than just our kitchen."
Tina Luethje with Tyson was among those who toured the shelter Thursday.
"We want to give back to the community and help the children," Luethje said. "We support the shelter throughout the year in a lot of other ways besides just this."
Fitzhugh said the funding from Tyson has changed the shelter’s whole dynamic because now they can go to the grocery store and buy what the kids actually want to eat.
“Make home-cooked meals for these kids that they enjoy eating, that taste good and they can have seconds of their meals, and they always have fresh fruit, it just gives the kids the confidence they need,” Fitzhugh said.
The shelter has helped more than 4,000 kids since it opened in 1997. Every year Tyson Foods also buys the shelter coats for the kids, and it has also helped by painting the shelter inside and out.