A major Wilson employer recently teamed up with a Greenville-based YouTuber to donate a million servings of meat to food banks across the state.
“Due to recent events, lots of people have people have started to hoard food, and when you hoard food, you donate less,” said Jimmy Donaldson, known as Mr. Beast, in his video at https://youtu.be/oBYbxw8f5OI/. “Which is why we filled six semi-trucks with over $1 million worth of food because, now more than ever, food banks genuinely need our help.”
Mr. Beast’s team helped unload the trucks on March 23 and 24 at food banks across the state, each receiving roughly 175,000 meals. Smithfield Foods Charitable Initiatives Manager Jonathan Toms was a part of the effort, originally agreeing last fall to do the video when Mr. Beast was ready.
“When all the things with the virus started happening, and we saw the need go through the roof with schools closing and families losing meals for their kids, hours being cut and people losing streams of income with unemployment skyrocketing, we got on the phone together and said ‘We need to do this now,’” Toms said. “We ended up making that decision and getting the logistics straight, and the video turned around in five days.”
On Monday, Smithfield announced the video was part of more than $3 million in cash and in-kind donations as part of the “Good Food Challenge” to help Feeding America. In the video, Mr. Beast encourages viewers — more than 12 million on Thursday, including 600,000 in a 48-hour period — to follow a link and donate to Feeding America, which will be matched by Smithfield.
Toms said that within the first 12 hours the video was online, Feeding America reported $127,000 in donations. He said rather than waiting to reach $1 million in viewer donations, Smithfield is continually donating because the need is here now.
“Soon as people make a donation, it is being put to use by Feeding America and feeding people,” he said. “Smithfield will continue to match those donations with product and monetary donations for the foreseeable future.”
FOOD BANK DONATION
Candy Taylor, director of the New Christian Food Pantry at 111 Douglas St. S. in downtown Wilson, received an emergency donation of food Thursday from the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. While none of the Smithfield donation was on the truck, Taylor was grateful for the nearly 6 ½ tons of food to replenish shelves that had been empty for a week.
“I had a couple who were in need, so me and Preacher went to our house and got food out of our house so they could have some food,” Taylor said with tears in her eyes Thursday morning. “I had a couple who came in Tuesday when we were doing paperwork, and I told them there was nothing but a can of beans, but they said they would take it.”
The pantry usually feeds 767 people a month thanks to two trucks from the food bank, but the next shipment wasn’t set to arrive for another two weeks. Those in need will receive boxes of food from the Thursday donation starting at 10 a.m. Friday, but Taylor urged folks to follow social distancing guidelines while waiting.
“If before I gave four types of meat, now I’m giving two to try to stretch what we have further and help more people,” she said, adding each box is tailored to the number of people in a household.
Smithfield employs roughly 650 people in Wilson and 10,000 across the state. President and CEO Ken Sullivan released an online video at https://youtu.be/d013dOpMygc assuring customers that COVID-19 has only bolstered the company’s stringent sanitation practices.
“At Smithfield, we understand that continuing to deliver food and protein specifically to our communities is of vital importance now more than ever,” he said. “It is why I want to emphasize the critical role of agriculture and food production workers in the ongoing supply of food to American families.”