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From the editor: Giving back

When you experience something very special, you know it right away. It hits you in your core. I had that experience over the past two weeks, as I’ve been lucky to participate in events that showcase the special work and special people of the restaurant industry. It was a trifecta of passion, goodwill and some joyful tears over 10 consecutive days. First the No Kid Hungry Summit, then the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Faces of Diversity and Restaurant Neighbor awards gala, and finally, the NRAEF National ProStart Invitational. 

Two of these events aren’t new to me. I’m a member of the No Kid Hungry Dine Out advisory board, and I’ve attended the NRAEF awards for multiple years. Shame on me, however, that this was my first experience with ProStart.

The efforts showcased by the supporters, sponsors and participants of these events is incredible, and the communities these organizations build are powerful. No Kid Hungry, with the participation of many restaurant brands, helps children in the U.S. who are challenged with hunger. The NRAEF celebrates restaurant entrepreneurs and employees that make a difference, and helps young adults, many of whom face economic hardships, find careers and success in foodservice.

This isn’t about me and my experiences. I am not a member of the restaurant industry; I am an observer and analyst. I am also not blind to the many challenges and issues that I think the industry needs to better address. Still, I know good stuff when I see it, and this is good stuff. 

NRN presents data and insights on where the industry stands and what the remainder of the year looks like. It is important information as we come close to the mid-year marker.

Many of us look at data each day, and it can be easy to forget the human side of the equation. At the recent National ProStart Invitational teams of high school competitors — already state winners — built detailed restaurant business plans and prepared three-course meals in 60 minutes. It is out of control how skilled these young adults are. On the business side, I know investment dollars would flow their way.

It is inspiring to see this level of skill; it is beautiful to see their excitement; it is powerful to know that for many this is a first trip away from home, a first glimpse at the Pacific Ocean. For those of us that know how far these young adults can go in foodservice, this event is like looking directly into the future.

It is impossible to contain the full scope of work from No Kid Hungry or the mentioned award winners, competitors, sponsors or leaders in the finite pages of NRN. I encourage everyone to look to for these stories. I encourage businesses to support these initiatives, whether through Dine Out, NRAEF sponsorship or simply mentorship or fundraising at the local level.

There is so much this industry is doing for others, and it can do more. Isn’t that, at the bottom line, the best gauge of performance?

Sarah E. Lockyer, Editor-in-Chief
E-mail: [email protected]
Twitter: @slockyerNRN

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