Company Has Donated Almost 30 Million Meals Since March

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is taking its toll, touching every community, family and person in life-altering ways.  As we face a challenge like no other, Tyson Foods continues to live our purpose by getting food and aid to where it’s needed most.

Protein Donations

In mid-March we announced that Tyson Foods had donated more than four million pounds of food, equivalent to 16 million meals, to our team members, Feeding America food banks, community pantries near our operations and other hunger relief agencies. To date, that number has increased to 28.4 million meals*, or 7,159,311 million pounds of food, including 10 million of those meals directly to our hourly team members as they continue the inspiring work of keeping our country fed.

Small ways to help can be just as impactful as big ones.  Many families are feeling the pinch from lost jobs and wages. Make a difference by dropping off non-perishable food items at a local Little Free Pantry.  Families in need can pick up items anonymously. There are 45 in the NWA area, alone! Find your closest pantry here.

Community Grants

It is critically important that nonprofit organizations receive funding to address community needs now.  To this end, we’ve announced the Tyson Foods COVID-19 Response Fund, which is rapidly deploying financial resources to community-based organizations that are supporting our local team members and community residents during the pandemic.

Plant management teams have discretion to invite local nonprofits to apply for small grants which are intended to support pandemic emergency response, including rent/utility assistance, food distribution, mental health services, health care, childcare and other economic recovery services.

Stan Welch, plant manager at the Newbern, Tennessee facility, was one of the first to utilize the program. “We invited the Salvation Army and Mathew 25:40 to apply for a grant because of the amazing work they do to feed our community. Our plant is the second-largest employer in the area, so these funds, and the product donations we’re able to provide because of the slowdown in the need for the commercial food we produce, mean more mouths fed and more team members supported,” he explained. “I can’t begin to tell you how impactful these funds are for our community during this difficult time.”

Helping Hands Enhancement

Unfortunately, our team members’ families may be facing sudden financial challenges with the loss of a family job, sudden child-care needs or medical expenses. The Tyson Foods Helping Hands Fund was created to assist employees facing financial hardship immediately after a natural disaster or an unforeseen personal hardship. The COVID-19 global pandemic is no exception.

The Helping Hands program has been expanded to include a new event category – Epidemic.  Expenses covered under this event include rent/mortgage, utilities, food, childcare, medical expenses not covered by insurance, the inability to work due to illness or quarantine and funeral expenses.  The Helping Hands program is available to help team members in need. For more information, go to or contact Lisa Frye.

Senior Director, Corporate Social Responsibility at

Debra Vernon is Tyson Foods’ Senior Director for Corporate Social Responsibility.

Having spent nearly 30 years in the corporate responsibility and communications fields, Debra joined Tyson in 2016. She leads the company’s strategic social investment in key issues including hunger and food insecurity, community sustainability, and life skills education for vulnerable workers. She and her team also oversee employee engagement, disaster relief, national and international partnerships, cause marketing and social enterprise initiatives.

Prior to joining Tyson Foods, she served as the corporate social responsibility lead and foundation president at American Water, where she established and implemented the company’s CSR and social investment programs. During her tenure, American Water was selected as the first (and only) U.S. water company in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index North America and was included in CRO Magazine’s list of 100 Best Corporate Citizens.

Her career marries corporate social responsibility, communications and change management. It has allowed her to build engagement and momentum around sustainability and to share her passion for helping people help themselves, while at the same time generating optimal business and brand value. Debra earned her master’s degree in organizational development from the University of San Francisco. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in communication and business management from Eastern Washington University.

In her free time, Debra enjoys road trips, hiking, learning new stuff, her family and reading on the back porch, not necessarily in that order.