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A year into pandemic, Great American Takeout reprises with a benefit

Sponsors pledge $555K to restaurant worker and family organizations based on social photo posts

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the organizers behind on the earliest helping hands to the restaurant industry are back with a benefit reprise.

On Wednesday, March 24, The Great American Takeout is returning to aid restaurants and employees that were hit hard and deeply by COVID-19 restrictions and the impact on the industry.

The Great American Takeout is calling on consumers to order a takeout or delivery meal and share a photo on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #TheGreatAmericanTakeout.

For every takeout order shared socially on Wednesday, the anniversary date, The Great American Takeout’s sponsors will donate $10 to the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and Children of Restaurant Employees to support restaurant workers and their families.

Those pledging to donate a combined $555,000 include: Rich Products, The Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo, Nestlé Professional, Tyson Foods, Constellation Brands, Smithfield Foods, Keurig Dr Pepper, the International Food Manufacturers Association and GP Pro.

Last year, during the depth of the initial COVID-19 lockdowns, Los Angeles-based advertising agency High Wide & Handsome brought together sponsors to urge weekly takeout promotions.

“At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, we quickly realized that only way for the industry to respond meaningfully was through collaboration,” said John Truscott, president of High Wide & Handsome, on Tuesday.

“For our first event, we had more than 103,000 locations represented, with many locations reporting sales lifts of more than 30% week-over-week,” Truscott said. “Over the past year, we’ve hosted 16 events and raised nearly $1 million for restaurant workers in need, while consistently stimulating takeout business to help keep restaurants afloat.”

Immediately after last year’s inaugural social-media event, Clay Dover, CEO of the Dallas-based Velvet Taco fast-casual brand, said the event helped the brand exceed sales goals that were quickly ratcheted downward because of the pandemic’s restrictions.

For this anniversary event, The Great American Takeout organizers said the rules were simple: just share photo posts on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #TheGreatAmericanTakeout.

Rich Products, a longtime supporter of the NRAEF, said it pledged to donate an additional $25,000 to the NRAEF, bringing its total contribution from The Great American Takeout to $75,000.

To further its support for The Great American Takeout and provide an additional lift to the restaurant industry, Rich’s was set to surprise nearly 8,750 of its associates with “lunch on us” – an activation that will fuel nearly $125,000 back into the industry to directly support restaurants across the country.

“If there’s one thing this pandemic has shown us it is that great impact can come from shared ideas, support and commitment,” said Kevin Spratt, Rich Products’ senior vice president for group business channels, in a statement.

“The Great American Takeout is a testament to exactly that and it’s been energizing to see this groundswell of support for the restaurant industry build over the past year,” Spratt said. “Foodservice is such an important part of our business and we’re proud to use our collective impact to directly support our customers.” 

With an estimated 110,000 restaurants permanently closed since the pandemic was declared in March 2020 and tens of thousands of workers without employment, officials said the Great American Takeout was helpful.

“The past year has been devastating to the restaurant industry,” said Rob Gifford, president, NRAEF. “We’re grateful to The Great American Takeout and its sponsors for supporting restaurants and restaurant workers as the industry works tirelessly to rebuild.”

For information about The Great American Takeout, visit

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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