Saturday, October 01, 2011

Early Morning Thoughts Re. Food Bank & Tyson's

I learned only yesterday of the Facebook voting campaign to direct 30,000 pounds of food from Tyson's Food to one of ten US Food Banks. Food Bank of the Albemarle, an eastern North Carolina organization, was in the running, and I promoted it on this blog.

When I went to bed last night I fully expected our local Food Bank to "win." It looks now as if the Yuma Food Bank will receive the gift. Regardless of the outcome, I have a few comments.

"Congratulations" does not seem like the appropriate response to the "winner" of this campaign. In fact, the entire promotion initially reminded me of that old 1950s TV show, Queen For a Day. The studio audience listened to pitiful stories of poverty and misfortune from a number of women, then voted on which homemaker was most unfortunate, and therefore should receive gifts of cash and appliances. Many people agreed that this was both emotionally exploitative and a poor way to help people in need.

On further reflection, the Tyson's Food/Food Bank voting campaign seemed more like a personality contest. The area that had the most fans was most likely to receive the prize.

All in all, this campaign does not appear to me to be a very appropriate method of distributing food to needy areas. Why did the donors not simply decide (based on research and statistics) where and how to distribute the food?

I have no objection to corporations or individuals gaining recognition for good deeds, but this campaign seems as much about enlisting Facebook and Facebook members to promote Tyson's Food as about feeding the hungry. When we consider that Tyson's Food has also come under attack for cruelty to animals the entire affair is unsettling.

Next time I don't believe I will be so hasty in promoting something I haven't researched and thought about more carefully.


  1. Anonymous7:40 AM

    Philip, your points are well taken. Yes, Tyson Foods has been under fire lately for several violations. And, it may be a publicity stunt. However, after thinking about the negatives, I looked at the group of people...struggling folks...who would benefit from such a large donation of food. Even though Richmond was also in the running and I was raised in Goochland county, some 35 miles away of the city, I decided to vote for the Albemarle Food Bank, which covers some of the down east counties where my late husband's family and friends reside.

    I am sorry the folks along our coastal region did not get the 30,000 lbs of food. It would have been a blessing.

    With that said, I hear ya, Philip, and I understand where you are coming from.

    Thanks so much for this blog.

  2. Debbie Leonard8:42 AM

    I agree completely...I don't buy Tyson chicken anymore after learning of their practices and I didn't "Like" their Facebook page, although I did vote.

    However, as much as there is not to like about this, I am glad that the people down East are going to get 30,000 pounds of food they wouldn't have otherwise have had.

  3. Julie S.10:46 AM

    I'm sorry that bringing this Tyson food donation to your attention brought you such distress. That was certainly not my goal! I did know about the "issues" surrounding Tyson manufacturing processes but decided that at this particular time full tummys were the #1 issue and sometimes we much concentrate on the potentially positive outcome. Again, I apoligize for insulting your sensitivities.

  4. Julie S. -- no apology necessary. I understand the sentiments of all the folks who participated in the voting. I voted myself, and promoted the campaign. I would love to have seen 30,000 pounds of food come to eastern North Carolina.

    It is just that as I reflected on the procedure I thought Tyson's Food could have donated the food in a more equitable, less self-serving manner.

    I am delighted that hungry people are being fed.

  5. Anonymous11:34 AM

    Philip-Everything you said is sad, but true. I once heard a missionary admit that sometimes you have to feed the greed of a few in order to get any help at all for the many in need. It's a shame your area did not "win", but don't lose any more sleep over it--your heart was in the right place--no harm done, and so many mothers and fathers will not have to put their children to bed hungry.

  6. Anonymous11:53 AM

    Public relations is a two way method of communication designed to influence public opinion. In this fast paced word of marketing via face book and social electronic digital twixts computer savvy programers that are not trained public relations professionals or maybe they are -- who knows -- the easy ad campaign involves hitting the like button --- if people participate with theses "events" companies will turn to these methods time and time again because they cost very little money ----but if it flops it could generate Bad publicity. Vote with your feet and walk away from these events. However, companies rationalize that the organizations included are getting free publicity for being included and if people want to help they can . So there

  7. Philip,
    I have just seen several posts and it appears that the Albermarle Food Bank DID win! the important thing is that the people of the OBX will benefit.

  8. Anonymous2:33 PM

    A press release on line states the NC group received the most votes but it was on the internet but then where does all the info you hear on the radio --where does that come from?? anyway Public awareness campaign about Hunger in America oh well BRB I'm hungry I hope that protein from animal products is balanced with colorful leafy greens