The River Valley Regional Food Bank welcomed a Tyson Foods truck Monday carrying nearly 25,000 pounds of ham to help the food bank's fight against hunger.

The food bank, 1617 S. Zero St. in Fort Smith, hosted Tyson Foods representatives from the company's headquarters in Springdale, as well as local leaders, including state Reps. Mat Pitsch and George McGill.

The donation will enrich the 85,000 monthly gifts of food made possible by the food bank, according to a news release.

“Tyson Foods has helped our food bank — and therefore all the food-insecure individuals and families in the eight counties we serve — tremendously with its generosity, and this new gift of protein will do so much good,” Tracy Engel, director of the food bank, says in a news release. “This is an answer to a special project we have of providing a holiday gift to veterans in need, and also to our day-to-day, year-round project of providing good nutrition to people struggling in 29 towns and the surrounding rural areas.”

The ham will be stored in the food bank’s freezer, which Tyson Foods helped provide in 2016, the release states. The 40x16x10-foot freezer helps the food bank receive and store and then share frozen meats and other frozen foods with its 185 member hunger relief agencies, in addition to dry goods and fresh produce it provides.

In 2017, the food bank distributed 8.7 million pounds of food. Its refrigerated trucks cover 1,300 miles each week to pick up donations of excess and salvage food from national and local partners through the Feeding America network, according to the release.

The gift by Tyson Foods is part of its five-year commitment to give $50 million in cash or in-kind donations to fight hunger by 2020. In the River Valley, one in six people, and one in four children, lacks access to enough food for a healthy lifestyle, according to Feeding America’s 2018 Map the Meal Gap report.

For information, call the River Valley Regional Food Bank at 479-785-0582.

HOPE Humane Society

The HOPE Humane Society in Fort Smith will welcome a truck at 10 a.m. Tuesday carrying more than 200 38-pound bags of dog and cat food. The gift for the 600 cats and 600 dogs residing at the center comes from the food bank.

“We occasionally receive donations of pet food, and we give it freely to the Humane Society,” Engel says. “This donation, shared with us by the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, is resulting from PetSmart’s commitment to donate 8 million pounds of pet food to the Feeding America network over a 12-month period.

“We love being able to help pets, too,” Engel added.

When the humane society uses up the 210 bags delivered Tuesday, the food bank will then deliver some 300 additional bags.

The food bank hopes to have a crowd cheering for the dogs and cats that will get to enjoy good food on a regular basis, the release states. The HOPE Humane Society is at 3800 Kelley Highway in Fort Smith. The phone number is (479) 783-4395.