Tyson Fresh Meats

Tyson Fresh Meats in Wallula

Tyson Foods has announced it’s joining the local fight again hunger as the pandemic continues to hit families’ pocketbooks hard.

“During this challenging time, we’ve expanded our hunger relief effort,” said Liz Croston, a corporate spokesperson for Tyson, the parent company that operates Tyson Fresh Meats in Wallula.

The company is donating 5 tons of fresh chicken in Walla Walla, and six Tyson managers have volunteered to distribute meals Friday night at the Blue Mountain Action Council Mobile Food Bank, 921 W. Cherry St.

Croston said that since early March, Tyson has donated more than 30 million pounds of food to various communities.

Food Bank Director Jeff Mathias estimates the 10,000 pounds of poultry — arriving Thursday as 3- to 3½-pound bags in refrigerated transport — will feed about 2,500 local households.

“That’s a huge donation,” Mathias said. “It’s awesome.”

Walla Walla’s BMAC Mobile Food Bank serves those in need Friday nights from 5-7 p.m. This week, the volunteers from Tyson will work in the drive thru, putting food in cars.

“Hunger relief is really the primary way Tyson Foods gives back to communities,” Croston said. “(BMAC) is working very hard to feed families, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, and we’re proud to be working with them.

“Friday’s event is perfectly aligned with our efforts to fight hunger in the communities where our team members live and work.”

Donations come as the coronavirus pandemic, striking countless families in multiple ways, has kept food banks especially busy.

Mathias said the Walla Walla food bank — one of five operated by Blue Mountain Action Council in Southeastern Washington, including Touchet, Prescott, Dayton and Burbank — has served an average of 423 households per week.

“It’s just out of this world, like you’ve never seen,” Mathias said. “We’re barely keeping up with what’s going on in the world.”

Households receive about 60-70 pounds of food, translating to around 15 meals per person each week.

To meet this need, BMAC is relying on food drives and donations to continue.

“The amount of food we’ve had coming in is awesome,” Mathias said. “Fresh produce really helps us out, and the state has really ramped up in programs to give us a significant amount of food. But the thing is that we also have to look ahead at January, February, when those programs dry up.”

Freshness is important.

“The best way to have people eating nutritious food is with fresh produce,” Mathias said. “It’s the cheapest and best way for us. We’ve had construction done to expand our facilities so we can better handle the food we have coming in.”

Hector del Castillo can be reached at hectordelcastillo@wwub.com or 509-526-8317.

Hector writes stories about local sports, helps produce the daily section and updates the web site. A lifelong sports nut having grown up in Maryland, he joined the U-B with more than 15 years experience in journalism.