At Smithfield Foods, we’re passionate about feeding people—it’s what we do. As Smithfield Foods’ senior director of hunger relief, I am proud to play a hands-on role in providing nutritious, high-quality protein to many Americans through the Feeding America network of food banks.
I have always been passionate about projects that create a positive, lasting impact on communities and people in need. For me, coming into this role with Smithfield and helping to develop Smithfield’s Helping Hungry Homes® initiative, has been the culmination of my 12-year journey. I have held many titles, but my current title with Smithfield, a global food company an active hunger-relief partner, is the position I am most proud to hold. We’re humbled to provide protein, a center-of-the-plate nutrient to people who need it the most. These donations are made possible through Helping Hungry Homes®, a Smithfield Foods initiative focused on ending hunger in America.
In September, I traveled with Helping Hungry Homes® to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to aid in the disaster relief efforts caused by severe flooding to the area. As I drove through parishes declared as disaster zones, I saw the prized possessions of families carried by water and strewn in the streets. It was a humbling experience to provide warm meals and boxes of food to families who lost everything.
According to the USDA, 42 million Americans are food insecure. That means 1 in 8 people nationwide may not know where their next meal will come from. We are working to change that through education, volunteerism and contributions to people in need. From now through the end of December, Helping Hungry Homes® will provide nearly 1 million pounds of protein to the Feeding America network of food banks. This large donation will be transformed into more than 830,000 meals for our neighbors in need this holiday season.
Our Smithfield family is also dedicated to this cause by hosting food drives at our facilities and volunteering at local food banks, where they stock shelves and sort food items. Together, we are proud to work with Feeding America to make a difference. Throughout our long-standing partnership, we have provided millions of meals to help fight hunger, which earned Smithfield Foods the recognition of Guiding Partner in 2016.
I hope our work will inspire others to join us in the fight against hunger. It is important to become an active supporter— volunteer at your local food bank and advocate for those in need. We are proud of the work we’ve done thus far to tell America’s story of food insecurity and aid in hunger relief, but we know we still have plenty of work to do. Through Smithfield Foods' protein donations to food banks, school nutrition programs, disaster relief efforts and community outreach projects coast-to-coast – we are proud to help communities.
*Dennis Pittman is the senior director of hunger relief for Smithfield Foods, the world's largest hog producer and pork processor. In this role, Pittman leads the company's hunger relief efforts, including Helping Hungry Homes®, an initiative to fight hunger and help Americans become more food secure.