A helping hand, free admission and a bacon bus combine for Smithfield Foods Hunger Relief Day

The N.C. State Fair and Smithfield Foods will once again offer free admission to people who bring six cans of nonperishable canned food to the fair. Smithfield Foods Hunger Relief Day is Thursday, Oct. 20. The day is one of the fair’s most well-known modern-day traditions.

“We are so excited to join the North Carolina State Fair for the second year now as the sponsor of the Smithfield Foods Hunger Relief Day,” said Jonathan Toms, Smithfield’s senior community development manager. “The North Carolina State Fair is such an exciting time to come in and celebrate agriculture and just being together in the state of North Carolina, but it’s also a great chance to make a difference.”

© 2021 Justin Kase Conder

Toms took time to talk about the special day on a recent episode of ‘My Carolina” on CBS-17. He explained that the food collected goes to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Since 1993, donations brought to the fair’s hunger relief day have added up to more than 5.8 million pounds of food for the food bank.

In 2021, Smithfield’s donation of 500,000 servings of protein contributed to more than 313,000 pounds of food collected for the event. That equals 261,000 meals for those facing hunger in North Carolina.

“Smithfield Foods is a food company, so feeding people is what we do. So for us, this is just a great opportunity to marry our passion for agriculture and our passion for helping people together,” Toms told the My Carolina hosts.

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina serves 34 counties in the state with facilities in Durham, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh, the Sandhills (Southern Pines), and Wilmington. From those facilities, the food bank partners with 700 agencies such as soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and programs for children and adults. Those partners have seen as much as a 42 percent increase in the need for services.

“It’s so easy for us to make a difference and get involved in this way. A donation of six canned food items is cheaper than your ticket to the fair. So I encourage everyone. It’s a way for all of us to get engaged in the fight against hunger and to give back,” Toms said. “The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina makes such a difference here in Raleigh but also across the state in supporting our community – supporting those who need just a little bit extra to make it through the month. Nobody should have to make a choice between ‘am I going to pay my utility bill or buy food this week? Am I going to pay my medical debt or buy food this week? Am I going to send my kid to school with their school supplies or am I going to buy food this week?’ That’s the question that the food bank helps to answer and why we at Smithfield are so passionate about helping support their mission.

© 2021 Justin Kase Conder

“We invite everyone to join us in the fight against hunger. Smithfield Foods has made a commitment to donate more than 200,000,000 servings of protein to food banks across the country in communities where we operate, and we encourage everybody to join us in that mission.”

Bacon bus adds to day’s activities
In addition to the serious effort to collect food for the food bank, Smithfield Foods will bring some different excitement with the company’s bacon bus. Maple glazed bacon samples will be available to fairgoers. They can also play bacon-themed games and get some giveaway and even information about career opportunities at Smithfield Foods.
The bacon bus will be on the east side of Dorton Arena – toward Kiddieland. It will only be on the fairgrounds on Thursday, Oct. 20.

About Tractor Pull

Tractor Pull is the fair-themed alias for Brandon Herring, a public information officer in the Public Affairs Division of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He's no stranger to the fair or the farm. A North Carolina native, he grew up helping on the family farm just east of Lumberton. After more than 15 years in TV news, he's sharing news of a different kind these days. He loves the rides on the fair's midway, but also loves that the fair has so many other things to see and do that are grounded in agriculture. His favorite fair food is a funnel cake with just powdered sugar - a classic!

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