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Tyson Foods plans to expand its hunger relief donations to Nepal, Honduras and Ethiopia as part of a nonprofit's efforts to feed children.

What began as an idea to help malnourished children in developing African countries, has led to Tyson and Cobb-Vantress employees teaching farmers how to raise chickens there through OneEgg, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

In a news release Thursday, Tyson and three partners agreed to give grants totaling $328,000 for three OneEgg projects that offer fresh chicken eggs to children in need in Nepal and Ethiopia and to expectant mothers in Honduras.

"All three projects reflect the core values of Tyson Foods: to raise the world's expectations of how much good food can do," said Tyson spokesman Derek Burleson. "All three projects are doing that in their own unique way. But the bottom line is they are benefiting people who critically need protein."

The news comes two years after Nepal was wrecked by an earthquake that killed 9,000 people, injured nearly 22,000 and damaged about 50 percent of the country's gross domestic product, according to reports from the Nepalese government. With a combined investment of $100,000 from Tyson and an area agribusiness, 7,000 children are expected to get an egg three times a week over the next two years, up from a reported 700 kids at 12 schools located in Rupandehi, Palpa and Kathmandu.

"After the 2015 earthquake devastated Nepal, we saw an opportunity to help change the lives of those who were suffering," Moushimi Shrestha, co-founder of Shreenagar Agro, a leading agribusiness in Nepal, said in a statement Thursday. "Because of the partnership with Tyson Foods ... we are expanding those efforts."

OneEgg began in 2008 as a plan hatched by a Memphis businessman, a church leader in Rwanda and a woman at Tyson Foods to feed African youths suffering from hunger while supplying jobs for families, according to the organization's website. A year later, the first OneEgg farm was planned for Rwanda. Since then, poultry operations have cropped up in other countries, including Uganda and Haiti, with the financial and technical aid of Tyson and other businesses through OneEgg.

Tyson has offered technical expertise the last 10 years to the nonprofit, but its first financial donation of $341,490 was made last year to help build an egg farm in Haiti. In the news release, Tyson agreed to give a total of $171,500 to varying projects. Honduras Outreach International, Project Mercy and a Nepal agribusiness agreed to match Tyson's donations by $50,000, $56,500 and $50,000, respectively.

Tyson's joint investment with Project Mercy, a Christian organization in Ethiopia, will go toward projects that bring egg production to the Yeteban community.

The investment in Honduras is different from the others in that officials want to study the effects of giving eggs to malnourished children and expectant mothers. Through the backing of Tyson and Honduras Outreach International, the nonprofit plans to research the impact of one egg a day on a child's physical development.

"Although the OneEgg model is great, we don't have good research," said Chris Ordway, executive director of OneEgg. "Interestingly enough, it's not well researched. There's a lot on animal protein, but not a lot when you isolate eggs."

The nonprofit is awaiting approval from a U.S.-based university to move forward with the study. The research institution's name was not disclosed in the news release. Ordway said the University of Florida has been working with OneEgg for the pending study. The plan is to watch the effect of eggs in the diet of children up to age 2. Once the study has been approved, researchers will measure the impact on pregnant mothers and children in Honduras.

Kristine Madsen, faculty director and professor at the University of California-Berkeley Food Institute, agreed with the idea behind the study, but questioned whether researchers also plan to study the unintended consequences that come with chicken eggs.

"They run the risk of creating high cholesterol in kids," Madsen said. "I think one of the issues is that, generally speaking, varied diets are very important. ... So I find it interesting this might be narrowing the reference frame for kids."

When comparing a varied diet to malnutrition, however, Madsen said "I see that as a more important issue than a narrow palate."

The other issue Madsen pointed to dealt with the expense of animal production.

"We know they tend to take more input than plant-based products in terms of feed and water," she said.

Business on 10/20/2018

Print Headline: Tyson will boost egg donations

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