September has turned into one of my favorite months, because the restaurant industry’s already generous commitment to improving the world shines even brighter.
Through Dine Out for No Kid Hungry, restaurants nationwide and across all segments raise money throughout the month to help power the non-profit Share Our Strength organization toward its goal of ending childhood hunger.
This year, brands united for a common cause include: Arby's, Bravo/Brio, Corner Bakery Cafe, Denny's, Grimaldi's Pizza, The Habit Burger, IHOP, Joe's Crab Shack, Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, Rosatti's Pizza, Ted's Montana Grill, Tommy Bahama and more.
Since the Dine Out’s launch in 2008, it has raised more than $28 million.
“From large national brands to small regional chains and independents and through a multitude of different brand-specific promotions, the restaurant industry has demonstrated that No Kid Hungry is possible,” said Diana Hovey, the program’s managing director. “As an industry, we’re in the business of feeding people, and together we can ensure a great future for the next generation and our country.”
The Dine Out already has helped connect children to more than 354 million meals, Hovey said, and more than 8,000 restaurants are participating this month. “Several more restaurants have scheduled Dine Out promotions for later this year,” she noted.
Marla Topliff, president of Rosati’s Pizza, said she came face-to-face with childhood hunger when she was a stay-at-home mom.
“I volunteered as a lunchroom helper at my kids’ school and witnessed first-hand the inequity of school lunches,” Topliff recalled. “Some kids had lunch, others either didn't or would get a cheese sandwich with milk. It was unsettling to witness.”
Topliff noted that her community was not unique. “Communities all across the county had the same challenge, kids were going to school hungry and there were no good solutions,” she said. “Today, it heartening to know that NKH actually does represent a solution.
“For me and my Rosati's family of stores” she added, “there is no greater feeling in the world than to be able to be a part of it.”
Topliff said about 40 Rosati’s franchisees this year are volunteering to raise money and offer incentives for customer giving.
Restaurants are giving in various ways. The 83-unit Fort Worth, Texas-based Fuzzy's Taco Shop, in addition to donating 25 cents from each souvenir drink cup sold during the month, is also letting customers donate their rewards points accrued through the “Friends With Benefits” loyalty app. For every 25 points donated from the mobile app, Fuzzy’s will give $1 to the No Kid Hungry campaign.
“By participating in NKH, our owners are taking that responsibility literally by helping to feed the children in the communities they serve,” Topliff noted. “Serving and being ingrained in each of our local communities is paramount to our business model. With over 67,000 pizza places in America, customers are more likely to choose those who serve the community’s needs first.
“Ultimately giving back is good for the bottom line,” Topliff said. “It's a win-win for everyone.”
So as this September’s Dine Out continues, join me in thanking restaurants for participating. And, like me, pick up a few coupon books or souvenir cups to help the cause.