Seaboard Foods was awarded the American Meat Institute’s (AMI) Edward C. Jones Community Service Award during the 2011 AMI Meat, Poultry & Seafood Convention and Exposition in Chicago, Ill.

In presenting the award, AMI Chairman Dennis Vignieri, president of Kenosha Beef International, called Seaboard’s generosity “wide-ranging.”

The company donated $450,000 over 10 years to the Leoti, Kansas, school system to provide technology to improve education.  The company also donated $100,000 to the Oklahoma State University Swine Education and Research Center. Guymon, Oklahoma — one of Seaboard’s plant communities — benefited from a $100,000 donation to build a new YMCA and Seiling, Oklahoma, has new trees around the city thanks to Seaboard.

Seaboard Foods has also supported Ronald McDonald House, the American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity and the Chester, Oklahoma, Historical Society, which replaced old playground equipment in their park thanks to Seaboard’s support. 

“Seaboard encourages employees to get involved in civic organizations such as local school boards, city councils and economic development boards.  And its president Rod Brenneman  leads by example,” Vignieri said. 

Seaboard’s commitment to the community starts at the top. Seaboard’s President and Chief Executive Officer Rod Brenneman and his wife, Shelley, have travelled on mission trips with their church where they have participated in community development projects.  Closer to home, following a devastating tornado in Greensburg, Kansas, that destroyed the town’s high school just prior to graduation, the Brennemans traveled to Greensburg where their team had towed a cooker and served pork burgers and pork loins for the school’s graduation celebration. 

The award is named in honor of former AMI Board member, the late Edward C. Jones of Jones Dairy Farm, in Ft. Atkinson, Wisconsin, who was a model of community service.  

In addition, the late Don Tyson, former chairman of Tyson Foods, Inc., was posthumously honored with the AMI’s highest award, the Industry Advancement Award.

Tyson died in January 2011 at the age of 80 after a battle with cancer, but according to AMI Chairman Dennis Vignieri, president of Kenosha Beef International, he left an indelible mark on the meat industry.

In presenting the award, Vignieri said that Tyson was among the individuals whose drive and innovation helped to transform the U.S. meat and poultry industry from its former commodity mindset to its laser focus on the consumer and the importance of meeting their ever-changing needs and expectations.

Tyson had an intuition about new products, like the Rock Cornish hen, which he persuaded his father to introduce in the early 1960s.  He then led the company’s expansion into other areas like tortillas, bakery, pork, beef and seafood.  Together with his son, current Tyson Chairman John Tyson, he managed the acquisition of the meat company IBP and built a new model of diversification in the animal protein sector.

“He truly won the hearts of America’s children when his company introduced the chicken nugget – now a favorite food for children – and a few adults, too!” Vignieri said. 

Vignieri said he was never content to think he had the consumer all figured out and encouraged the construction of Tyson’s state of the art research and development center that has continued to monitor trends and meet them face-to-face with new and satisfying products. 

“In all of his efforts, he has been a strong competitor in the marketplace and challenged the rest of us to strive harder and be better,” Vignieri added.

“He also understood clearly this industry’s most valuable asset:  its people. He was as comfortable interacting with team members on the processing lines, as he was with those in the board room because he never forgot his roots,” Vignieri said.  “Throughout his entire career, Don was a great leader and a strong competitor, and he elevated our industry by his presence.”