Hunger advocacy never gets old for me, which is why I love sharing stories about organizations that are making a consistent and sincere effort to provide relief for those in need. I was very excited to learn that during the last week of February, Tyson Foods, Inc., one of the country’s leading processors and marketers of chicken, beef and pork, delivered 30,000 pounds of protein to Philabundance. If you’ve never heard of Philabundance, it is the region’s largest hunger relief organization serving five counties in Philadelphia and four in New Jersey. 23% of its “clients” are children, and 16% are seniors—the two most vulnerable demographics.
Over the last four years, Philabundance has seen a 143% in need; a donation of this size is enormously helpful and in fact, helped provide 30,000 meals for families in the Delaware Valley where there are nearly 900,000 residents at risk of hunger and malnutrition.
Here in Philadelphia, 1 in 4 residents are at risk for hunger, more than double the rates reported at both the national and state levels. (Click here to learn more about the “State of Hunger” across Pennsylvania.)
This is an alarming statistic anywhere, but in a city overflowing with trendy restaurants, food trucks, street vendors and gourmet markets, it is mind-boggling. For those paying attention to government funding, and following a number of international and national hunger prevention and cessation organizations, it’s very difficult to stand by and watch the hunger crisis worsen.
But all hope is not lost, especially here in Philadelphia where we have some of the most dedicated anti-hunger organizations in the country. But no matter how hard they work, their impact is marginalized by increasingly limited food supplies, due in large part to a rise in demand set off by SNAP cuts.
Though the data is hard to swallow, particularly in regard to the number of people being turned away by food pantries, there seems to be a growing movement among large food-based corporations to incorporate hunger into their cause marketing and/or corporate giving. Tyson is one of those companies working to make a difference, and this makes many people, including myself, happy. The Philadelphia donation is the second of three donation events in the Be a Hunger Hero campaign, a partnership between Champions for Kids and Tyson that aims to fight childhood hunger by providing the much-needed protein to families in need.
Tyson Foods’ current hunger relief campaign, KNOW Hunger, is focused on helping more people understand and join the effort to eliminate hunger in America. In the past 13 years, Tyson Foods has donated more than 95 million pounds of protein in the United States.
These types of initiatives matter because being in a constant state of hunger prevents people from functioning normally. Their bodies are depleted, making it hard to focus on responsibilities or maintain enough energy to be effective at work—if they’re lucky enough to have a job.
We all have friends who we can count on to deliver a rant about the perceived character traits of those living in disadvantaged circumstances. But the face of hunger has changed. And so has its impact on the human body. In this article, researchers examine the link between poor nutrition/low food budgets and obesity. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that high-nutrition foods are more costly, leaving many families with little choice other than to buy/consume cheaper, high-calorie foods.
One of the first grocery items to fall off the list when budgets are tight, is meat. And though consuming too much meat has its pitfalls, a diet of cheap, starchy carbohydrates and processed foods is worse. Protein is critical for memory and learning in both children and adults, and also for maintaining body composition, bone health and normal blood sugar. Being able to dispense 30,000 pounds of chicken, beef and pork across the region is not an everyday occurrence. If it were, obesity rates would be down, kids wouldn’t be thinking about lunch instead of the lesson going on in their classroom, and hunger statistics would start inching downward.
Thank you Tyson, Philabundance and Champion for Kids for standing up against hunger. I have a hunch that your friends at Share Our Strength and No Kid Hungry welcome the assist.