Smithfield Foods has donated 25,000 pounds of meat to help needy families at risk of hunger. The donation was made by celebrity cook Paula Deen to the Capital Area Food Bank last week as part of the the company’s Helping Hungry Homes initiative. The donation equates to 100,000 servings of protein for hungry families.

The Capital Area Food Bank has experienced a 248 percent increase in calls to an emergency food referral line, in the last six months versus the same time period last year.

When added to donations Smithfield Foods made last spring, Helping Hungry Homes has now donated 55,000 pounds of meat to the Capital Area Food Bank in 2008. The donations equal approximately 220,000 servings for needy families in the Washington, D.C. area.

"During tight economic times, those who have the least suffer the most," said C. Larry Pope, president and chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods. "We welcome this opportunity to renew our commitment to feeding families with this Helping Hungry Homes donation."

Deen, host of Paula's Home Cooking on the Food Network, helped Smithfield Foods launch Helping Hungry Homes last spring with a 10-city tour that distributed enough food to serve a million people. Deen, along with Smithfield Foods' employees and and other volunteers, helped deliver the donated meat on Nov. 7.

"We want to do whatever we can to make things better for families who are experiencing tough times," Deen said. "At some point in our lives, we've either needed some help or known others who need help. That's why we're here."

"Smithfield Foods is a wonderful example of how corporate partners can make a significant impact in the struggle to end hunger," said Lynn Brantley, president and chief executive officer of the Capital Area Food Bank.  “We appreciate Smithfield Foods' commitment to addressing hunger."

The 25,000-pound donation included sliced sandwich meats, pork ribs and Paula Deen's Crunchy Honey Glazed Spiral Sliced Hams. Smithfield's Gwaltney and Esskay product brands can be found in Washington, D.C.-area stores.

Smithfield Foods and its independent operating companies have a long history of stocking food banks, supporting after-school nutrition programs and community-based groups that support local families in need, and providing food relief in the wake of natural disasters.