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·4 min read

$2 Million Dollar Grant from Philanthropic Arm of Olive Garden Parent Company Will Help Increase Access to Nutritious Food in Communities of Color

25 Food Banks Have Received Refrigerated Mobile Food Pantry Vehicles Since January 2021

ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Darden Restaurants is helping Feeding America® add refrigerated trucks for 10 member food banks to support mobile pantry programs and food distribution in communities with the highest need. Through a $2 million grant from the Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation, and support from partners Penske Truck Leasing and Lineage Logistics, each food bank will receive a 26-foot vehicle that can transport 12,000 pounds of food at a time, and will also receive $52,000 to use for food and other needs.

Darden Helps Feeding America Add Mobile Food Pantries to Serve Communities Facing Hunger.
Darden Helps Feeding America Add Mobile Food Pantries to Serve Communities Facing Hunger.

Food banks receiving this gift include:

  • Arkansas Foodbank (Little Rock, Ark.)

  • Chattanooga Area Food Bank (Chattanooga, Tenn.)

  • Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma (Tulsa, Okla.)

  • Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley (Pharr, Texas)

  • Golden Harvest Food Bank (Augusta, Ga.)

  • Kansas Food Bank (Wichita, Kan.)

  • Roadrunner Food Bank (Albuquerque, N.M.)

  • Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina (Fayetteville, N.C.)

  • Second Harvest Food Bank of the Big Bend (Tallahassee, Fla.)

  • Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank (Toledo, Ohio)

"Across our company, we have a higher purpose to nourish and delight everyone we serve, and that includes the communities where we operate our restaurants," said Rick Cardenas, President and CEO of Darden Restaurants. "We're uniquely positioned to help in the fight against hunger, and we're proud to continue helping more Feeding America member food banks increase access to nutritious food for people who need it most."

The Need
The rate of inflation has caused grocery prices to spike by more than 13% over the last year, and families are turning to local food banks for support. Communities of color continue to be impacted by food insecurity at a disproportionately higher rate.

In addition, local food banks are also dealing with the impacts of inflation, resulting in higher costs for food and the transportation needed to acquire and deliver food to their communities. Feeding America helped identify food banks serving communities of color with disproportionately high levels of food insecurity to receive a truck to help increase their mobile food pantry capacity.

"As food prices remain stubbornly high, the nearly 34 million people who experienced food insecurity in 2021 continue to face a tough choice, whether to purchase food or pay for other basic needs, such as electricity or medicine," said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America. "This Hunger Action Month, we're grateful for the collaborative efforts from Darden, Penske and Lineage in continuing to provide member food banks with refrigerated trucks that will help reach more communities and provide millions of meals to individuals and families across the country."

Responding to the Need
Darden and the Darden Foundation have been partners with Feeding America for more than 10 years. This donation marks the latest effort in Darden's ongoing commitment to help fight hunger, and it follows two previous donations that provided 15 refrigerated trucks for food banks located in: Birmingham, Ala.; Columbus, Ga.; Detroit, Mich.; Ft. Worth, Texas; Huntsville, Ala.; Jackson, Miss.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Memphis, Tenn.; Monroe, La.; Orlando, Fla.; San Antonio, Texas; Shreveport, La.; Tampa, Fla.; Theodore, Ala.; and Tyler, Texas. Within the first year of serving their communities, these trucks have conducted more than 7,000 mobile food pantry distributions and helped provide more than 27 million meals.*

This work builds on Darden's ongoing Harvest program, which donates unserved, nutritious food from Darden's family of restaurants to local nonprofits. Since this program's inception, Darden's team members have 'harvested' more than 130 million pounds food — amounting to more than 108 million meals.*

*According to the USDA, 1.2 pounds of food is equivalent to one meal.

About Darden Restaurants and the Darden Foundation
Darden's family of restaurants features some of the most recognizable and successful brands in full-service dining — Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and Eddie V's. For more information, visit www.darden.com.

The Darden Foundation works to bring to life our spirit of service through its philanthropic support of charitable organizations across the country. Since 1995, the Darden Foundation has awarded more than $100 million in grants to non-profit organizations such as Feeding America, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and American Red Cross.

About Feeding America
Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of more than 200 food banks, 21 statewide food bank associations, and over 60,000 partner agencies, food pantries and meal programs, we helped provide 6.6 billion meals to tens of millions of people in need last year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; brings attention to the social and systemic barriers that contribute to food insecurity in our nation; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Darden Restaurants, Inc. Logo. (PRNewsfoto/Darden Restaurants, Inc.: Gener)
Darden Restaurants, Inc. Logo. (PRNewsfoto/Darden Restaurants, Inc.: Gener)

View original content to download multimedia:https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/darden-restaurants-helps-feeding-america-member-food-banks-in-10-states-add-mobile-food-pantries-to-serve-communities-facing-hunger-301625710.html

SOURCE Darden Restaurants, Inc.: General