FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The University of Arkansas Athletic Department, Tyson Foods, Inc. and Lift Up America teamed together to distribute more than 38,000 pounds of food to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank and its partner agencies on Saturday outside the Broyles Center.
This is the third year the Athletic Department has participated. More than 50 student-athletes took part last year, but according to Lift Up America representatives, the Razorbacks set a record for the best participation by a single university at a Lift Up America event with 134 student-athletes donating time to load food on Saturday.
Representatives on site Saturday included Eric Wood, Arkansas assistant athletic director for student-athlete development; Dave Hannah, founder and chairman of Lift Up America; Sarah Lilygren, senior vice president of external relations at Tyson; and Lana Harris, director of development for the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank.
“I thought this was the best one we’ve had,” UA Coordinator of Student-Athlete Development Rodger Hunter said. “I was told by Dave Hannah this was the best Lift Up America event so far this year. They compared us with the Detroit Lions and the Independence Bowl. We usually distribute around 30,000 pounds of chicken. During the week they said we would have 38,000 pounds, but the driver said he had 43,000 pounds on the truck. I don’t know how much it was for sure, but it was divided between more than 50 agencies in Northwest Arkansas.”
Since 2000, Tyson Foods has been a leader in the fight against hunger. The company is actively engaged in food-donation events and fund-raising activities year-round. The protein given by Tyson at Saturday’s event brings the company’s total in-kind donations since 2000 to more than 73 million pounds. That total equates to more than 216 million meals donated to food banks and agencies serving local communities around the country. In 2008 alone, Tyson donated nearly 12 million pounds of protein to Feeding America.
Lift Up America, founded in 2004, is a collaborative effort of companies working with professional and college sports teams and local nonprofit agencies to provide the gifts of food, sight, hearing, hope and comfort to the nation’s less fortunate. Through sponsors, it has provided more than $25 million in hearing aids, helped approximately 26,000 people in need of prescription eyeglasses, delivered 10 million meals and over 40 million dollars in scholarships across America.
The Northwest Arkansas Food Bank was established in 1988 by a group of citizens who saw the need for hunger assistance in Northwest Arkansas. Over the past 20 years, the Food Bank has grown to serve citizens of Benton, Washington, Madison and Carroll counties. Each year, the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank distributes over three million pounds of food in those counties through its partnership with 118 member agencies.
Hunter said members of Arkansas’ women’s golf, men’s tennis, soccer, volleyball, football, softball, gymnastics, and swimming and diving teams volunteered, but that list could grow to include more teams after he sorts through the names of participants.
“We’re building a great relationship in the community,” he said. “We’re letting the community know that Tyson, Lift Up America and our program care about people in this area. Several of the agencies had someone come up and thank us for being so kind.”