The 53-foot "Meals that Matter" semi-trailer will serve as a central supply unit at disaster sites. Multiple Tyson "cook teams" and volunteers bring grills and support feeding efforts to help those in need. The trailer is outfitted with enough refrigerated space to store up to 20,000 pounds of chicken, beef or pork, plus a 5,500-watt generator and satellite communications.
"For decades, we've responded to disasters in or near our plant communities in 26 states by doing what we do best, feeding people," said John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods.
Tyson volunteers responded to the 9-11 disaster and flooding and tornados. According to David Young, complex manager at the Tyson Foods facility in Monett, the experience following Tyson's response to the May 22, 2011 tornado in Joplin contributed to dedicating a vehicle to response efforts.
"We had a grill in Joplin in 24 hours," said Young. "We cooked there for 14 straight days and had six complexes represented. Our experience and the one in Birmingham, Ala., finalized the need for this. It gave us our mission."
Tyson provided more than 120,000 pounds of food to local survivors and relief workers in Joplin. Around 150 Tyson employees responded to the 2011 tornados in northern Alabama, serving 270,000 pounds of food and provided diesel fuel to poultry farmers running generators on their farms.
With the exception of a grill, the "Meals that Matter" unit has everything needed to set up and run a cooking site. The unit has full refrigeration, tents and lights, sanitation equipment, cooking and serving supplies, a generator, hydraulic lift and a Wi-Fi hot spot for Internet connections via satellite.
Mobile grills will be supplied as needed by Tyson's plant locations. More than 40 plant sites, including Monett, are currently capable of responding to disasters by sending grills and Tyson volunteers to cook.
"When disasters strike, our team members mobilize," said Tyson. "Our new truck will help those teams by giving them all the supplies they need to make it easier to help."
On average, Tyson is involved in responding to four to five major disasters each year. The company has provided between $300,000 and $500,000 in food and financial support to disaster relief in recent years.
Tyson Foods will also work closely with the American Red Cross during future disaster relief efforts. In February, Tyson signed a formal statement agreeing to become a disaster responder partner of the Red Cross.
"Tyson's 'Meals that Matter' team gives the Red Cross another 12 first responders on the ground so their people can do more," Young added.