Sponsored by Share Our Strength
The restaurant community has long taken a leadership role when it comes to social issues, and one of its most favored causes has been Dine Out for No Kid Hungry.
Dine Out for No Kid Hungry is a national, restaurant-led initiative by No Kid Hungry, a campaign to end childhood hunger in the United States. This fundraising initiative raises critically needed funds and public awareness for the one in six children living with hunger.
No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger through effective programs that provide kids with the food they need every day, such as school breakfast, after school and summer meals. Studies show that kids who eat school breakfast miss less school, get better grades and are more likely to graduate from high school.
Since Dine Out for No Kid Hungry was launched in 2008, restaurants and their guests have raised more than $70 million to help provide hungry children with three meals every day. Just $1 can provide up to 10 meals for kids in need.
Building goodwill, keeping turnover low
While restaurateurs have demonstrated that their participation in Dine Out for No Kid Hungry can make a difference in the fight against childhood hunger, they also have found that their involvement can help to decrease worker turnover by improving employee engagement and morale, and build customer loyalty throughout their communities.
“We pride ourselves on turnover rates that are much lower than the industry average,” says Chris Tomasso, president and CEO of First Watch, the daytime-only restaurant concept. “We think that can be attributed to the care that we as a company show for our people and our communities. We realize that in today’s workforce, applicants want to work for a company that cares. Our partnership with No Kid Hungry and other community organizations has a positive impact on our team members and our customers.”
According to a study conducted by research firm Technomic, 88 percent of restaurants say participation in Dine Out for No Kid Hungry leads to goodwill in their community.
Many ways to participate
Restaurants can participate in Dine Out for No Kid Hungry in a variety of ways, choosing the options that best dovetail with their operation's needs. Options include donating a portion of sales for a designated period of time to No Kid Hungry; selecting a particular menu item — an LTO or best-seller, for example — and donating sales from that item; or creating a bounce-back coupon enabling customers to make a donation which can be redeemed on their next visit. There is no requirement as to how long or when an operator chooses to run his promotion.
Atlanta-based upscale casual-dining concept Ted's Montana Grill has partnered with No Kid Hungry since 2008, raising $1.4 million. Every September, a company goal is established as well as individual restaurant goals. “Once our campaign is live, we track each restaurant’s donation goal by team member,” says Jessica Smith, senior director of marketing. “We list tiered donation levels of $5, $10 and $15 on guest receipts and encourage our guests to join us in the fight to end childhood hunger by donating after their [dining] experience. For all donations of $5 or more, the guest receives a $5 thank you certificate to use on their next visit.”
Incentivizing crew members
Smith says Ted's also has designed a crew incentive program in which team members are rewarded for the amount of donations they generate. “In order for us to exceed our goals, we have to inform and inspire our team members,” she says. “We create a training video that is available on the POS systems that educates them on our goal and our action plan. We pride ourselves in engaging our employees, which reduces turnover and increases the retention of our team members.”
Contributing to No Kid Hungry “has helped to grow our company’s core values and allowed our team members to nourish children in their local communities,” says Smith. “But these innocent kids still need our help, and that is why we remain committed to this organization and ending childhood hunger in America.”
First Watch has had a relationship with No Kid Hungry since 2009. Throughout the past decade the chain has participated in Dine Out for No Kid Hungry in a variety of ways, including donating a portion of its seasonal pumpkin pancake sales to the cause and offering customers the option to add a small donation to their bill.
In addition to contributing a portion of sales throughout the month of September, “First Watch contributes 25 cents from every kid's meal sold in each of our restaurants year-round to the cause,” says Tomasso. “In 2018, that initiative, combined with our efforts during Dine Out for No Kid Hungry, amounted to more than $300,000.”
Supporting the cause
Supporting No Kid Hungry has generated goodwill throughout the communities in which First Watch is located. “Customers for the past 10 years have shared personal stories and praised First Watch for our commitment to this important cause,” Tomasso says. “We hope it is a deciding factor when consumers are trying to decide where to enjoy a daytime meal.”
As part of Dine Out for No Kid Hungry, casual-dining operator Ruby Tuesday offers guests several ways to contribute to ending childhood hunger. Guests can add a donation to their check at the end of the meal. Also, the chain offers 25 cent handcrafted lemonades on National Lemonade Day in August each year, with all proceeds going to No Kid Hungry.
“Over the last three years, Ruby Tuesday has seen strong success around our fundraising efforts for No Kid Hungry,” says Marty Ritson, president and chief operations officer at Ruby Tuesday. “As a result of our fundraisers in 2018, around National Lemonade Day in August and guest check donations during the holiday time frame, Ruby Tuesday raised more than $200,000 for No Kid Hungry, helping to provide up to 2 million meals to children in need.
“We greatly care for the families and communities we serve, and are thrilled to be part of Team No Kid Hungry and take part in their mission to end childhood hunger,” says Ritson. “And we are looking forward to continuing this partnership.”
For those restaurateurs who want to participate in Dine Out for No Kid Hungry, please visit NoKidHungry.org/DineOut.