Smithfield Foods and the United Food and Commercial Workers union are working together to donate to Feeding America — The Nation's Food Bank Network.

The two entities will donate almost 20 million servings of protein (estimated quarter-pound per servings) over three years. Smithfield and UFCW rolled out the program Monday in the South Bronx with a donation to the Food Bank for New York City. The event featured Food Network star (and Smithfield spokeswoman) Paula Deen.

"We went into this joint venture (with the union) because we thought it was the right thing to do. This was a way to make a huge impact, and address an issue we have a common interest in" Smithfield Public Affairs Director Dennis Pittman told

The nation's food bank services are under pressure as the U.S. unemployment rate now exceeds 10 percent

Smithfield and UFCW will work together over the next three years and will make donations nationwide. They will dived the program costs evenly.

"UFCW is committed to ensuring that families across the country have the relief and opportunities they need to weather the current economic crises," says Joe Hansen, UFCW international president. "This partnership is about bringing together organizations with the resources, relationships and know-how to ensure that vulnerable communities across the country have access to well-supplied food banks."

Smithfield and UFCW officials hope that this joint venture will prompt others into action: "It's something the food industry needs to get involved in. We hope other members of the food and beverage industry will step up," Pittman adds.