SPRINGDALE, ARK. — Tyson Foods donated more than 8.6 million lbs. of protein to food banks throughout the U.S. in 2009. The company also undertook several initiatives designed to help raise awareness for the cause of hunger and its growing impact on Americans.

Last year, Tyson donated 8,619,029 million lbs. of chicken, beef and pork, which are equal to 34.4 million meals. The protein was donated to more than 40 food banks that distribute the food to local non-profits and food pantries directly providing food to those in need. Such food donations were made in 28 states. Tyson has been active in hunger-relief work since 2000. Since then, it has donated approximately 71 million lbs. of protein.

In 2009, the top-10 state recipients for Tyson food donations were Arkansas, 1,666,171.32 lbs.; Kansas, 1,088,737.26 lbs.; Illinois, 882,030.75 lbs.; Texas, 850,663.26 lbs.; Missouri, 822,967.07 lbs.; California, 467,725.53 lbs.; North Carolina, 427,974.43 lbs.; Ohio, 180,051.80 lbs.; Indiana, 174,288.58 lbs.; and Pennsylvania, 163,452.36 lbs.

“At Tyson Foods, we believe hunger is unacceptable,” said Ed Nicholson, director of community relations for Tyson Foods. “These challenging times have only made things worse for many Americans. Our goal is to help those who are working on the front lines of hunger by giving them much-needed protein they can distribute in their communities. We’re also focused on raising awareness for the cause of hunger in hopes that with additional awareness will come additional resources.”

Tyson’s efforts last year to continue placing attention on the cause included several initiatives. Tyson hosts a web site http://hungerrelief.tyson.com dedicated to the cause of hunger and encouraging greater online discussion about ways to fight hunger in America.

Tyson honored four outstanding individuals for their unique efforts to fight hunger in their local communities. The company donated approximately 35,000 lbs. of protein to each Hunger All Star’s local food bank in their honor.

The company also collaborated with several national organizations including: Feeding America, Share Our Strength, League of United Latin American Citizens, Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Lift Up America.

Tyson team members are also actively involved in the fight against hunger. Many plants host fund-raising events every year for hunger relief through the company’s “Powering the Spirit” program. During 2009, team members raised more than $110,000 that was donated to Share Our Strength for hunger outreach in those local communities as well as on the national level.