Tyson Foods, in a partnership with Community Blood Center of the Ozarks (CBCO), hosted a blood drive on January 21 at our headquarters in Springdale, AR – the first since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. CBCO is the exclusive local blood provider to all hospitals in Northwest Arkansas and has collected nearly 5600 donations from Tyson Foods team members at headquarters since first connecting in 1995.

“We’re proud of our 26-year partnership with Tyson Foods,” said Meredith Johnson, CBCO Administrator-Arkansas.

Showing community support, while many continue to feel the impacts of the pandemic, is more important now than ever.

“March 2020 was the start of unprecedented blood drive cancellations due to COVID-19. Blood usage slacked in the first two to three months of COVID as elective surgeries were being put off,” Johnson said. “However, we are now seeing a sharp upward trend in blood usage, yet our collections aren’t keeping up with demand as many groups are still unable to host blood drives.”

Johnson and Sara Grigg, senior nurse supervisor at Tyson Foods and blood drive organizer, set a goal of 20 units, aware that many team members are still working from home. But, Tyson Foods team members showed up for a total of 35 units.

“It was so exciting to have a goal of 20 and get 30+ units from the first drive back,” Grigg said. “It makes me so proud of our team members.”

In organizing the drive, Johnson and Grigg prioritized team member safety by implementing the CDC safety guidelines: six-foot distancing between stations, hand sanitizing stations for donors, masks for donors and staff, and cleaning stations between each donor.

“I waited to bring blood drives back until I felt like Tyson Foods and CBCO could ensure our team members’ safety, as that is my number one priority,” Grigg said.

Grigg also noted the layout of blood drives have changed to ensure proper spacing and social distancing can be maintained at all times, and donations are by appointment only.

This was the first of five planned blood drives at Tyson Foods headquarters for this year. Upcoming blood drive dates are April 1, June 14, August 16, and November 8.

Manager, Content at Tyson Foods