Tyson helps provide balanced meals and snacks for NWA Children’s Shelter kids

Tyson Foods served up a heaping helping of support for the nutritional needs of abused and neglected kids today, in the form of a major grant to establish Tyson Foods’ Nutritious Meals Program at Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter.

Officials with Tyson Foods presented a giant ceremonial check to the Children’s Shelter and then joined its residents for a celebratory lunch of Tyson chicken tenders and nuggets.

The one-year Tyson grant of $ 64,000 will partially fund the children’s emergency shelter’s food and nutrition program, which has an annual budget of $ 112,000. The Children’s Shelter expects about $ 48,000 in reimbursement from other sources this fiscal year (July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013), so the Tyson grant effectively funds the balance of this year’s food and nutrition budget.

“This donation is another example of our company’s ongoing efforts in the fight against hunger,” said Ed Nicholson, Director of Social Media & Community Relations, who oversees Tyson Foods’ hunger-relief efforts. “We’re grateful for the work of the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter and are proud to help ensure at-risk children are receiving the nutritious food they need to be healthy.”

The Children’s Shelter currently serves about 40,000 nutritionally balanced meals and 30,000 healthy snacks per year. Those numbers potentially could climb to more than 52,500 meals and more than 35,000 snacks per year if the Children’s Shelter were to operate at full capacity (48 children) for an entire year.

The Children’s Shelter cared for 432 children in 2011 and is on pace to care for more than 500 children by the end of this calendar year. The food operation will bear the name Tyson Foods’ Nutritious Meals Program for the remainder of the fiscal year. The Children’s Shelter will apply to renew the grant annually thereafter.

Steve Schotta, Executive Director of the Children’s Shelter, noted that providing proper nutrition is a fundamental element of the Children’s Shelter’s daily work.

“Many of the children who come to us have significant nutritional challenges, due to the neglectful environments from which they have come,” Schotta observed. “Malnourishment and developmental delays are all too common for the children in our care, and very often, these children have no concept of healthy eating principles and practices. So nutrition plays a substantial role in our everyday routine at the Children’s Shelter. It’s a crucial part of the services we provide, and we are very grateful that Tyson Foods, which has been a long-time supporter of the Children’s Shelter, has taken this amazing step to single-handedly fund the remaining portion of our food budget for this fiscal year. Help from partners like Tyson Foods is critical because even though the children in our care are placed here by the state of Arkansas, the reimbursement we receive from the state represents only 20 percent of our overall annual budget of $ 3 million. We depend on gifts like this one to make up the other 80 percent.”

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