Tyson distributes free food
Company serves 1,200 local families
By John Faucher
The line of cars reached nearly 3 miles long as they began funneling into the parking lot of Tyson Foods New London plant Saturday, Sept. 25.
Tyson Foods, a local employer of more than 800 workers and producer of national food brands such as BallPark, Hillshire Farm, and Jimmy Dean, held a large-scale community product giveaway from 10 a.m. until 12:15 p.m.
The company announced the giveaway through social media platforms last week.
Tyson Foods donates over a half a million pounds of meat products to local food pantries in New London, Clintonville, Hortonville/Dale, Appleton and Green Bay, annually.
Company Chaplain Carrie Kreps Wegenast said this was the company’s first ever direct distribution event held locally.
By 9:30 a.m. Saturday, cars began to line up down local roads leading to the entrance of the plant. Officers from the New London Police Department, Waupaca County and Outagamie County Sheriff’s Departments helped direct traffic.
Company employees used tow motors to carry pallets of frozen product out to volunteers who then broke down pallets and distributed one case of product to each vehicle in two drive-up lanes.
Initial plans to distribute 40-50 pounds per person had to be scaled back slightly upon discovery of the huge turnout.
“We provided products for over 1,200 vehicles,” said Kreps Wegenast.
That was nearly double of what they expected for turnout.
“Given the incredible turnout we made the decision to reduce the amount given to each vehicle from what was originally advertised,” said Kreps Wegenast.
Each vehicle received a case of product ranging in weights from 12 to 25 pounds.
Over 15 ton of meat products were distributed in just over two hours.
Each box of frozen product contained a label designed to encourage those seeking employment to apply at Tyson. The label said, “Tyson, New London, We’re hiring, Text “Hotdog” to 313131.”
“We are hiring at all shifts starting at $18 an hour,” Kreps Wegenast said.
Tyson Foods purchased Hillshire Farm brands and the New London facility seven years ago and has continued to invest heavily in local community projects since.
As for the volunteers at Saturday’s event, they may want to wait awhile before the next drive up product giveaway event.
“We are committed to this community and being good community partners. Tyson Foods’ purpose is raising the world’s expectations for how much good food can do,” said Kreps Wegenast.