Observed every October 16, World Food Day offers the opportunity to strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger and draw attention to achievements in food security. Since its inception in 1981, World Food Day has been observed domestically and internationally to create unity among groups working to relieve hunger and to educate thousands about the reality of global hunger and the approaches to end it. Today serves as a reminder that the fight to end hunger both in America and internationally must continue.
We strive to fight the battle against hunger in every community we serve. The Darden Harvest program offers an alternative to discarding food through a partnership with Food Donation Connection, which coordinates donations to food banks and other charitable organizations across the country.
Each day, across every single one of our 2,100-plus restaurants, we "harvest" surplus, wholesome food that isn't served to guests and we safely prepare it for donation. These aren't leftovers; this is unused, fresh food. The food is then served at food banks, shelters and other charitable organizations. The families and children get many high-value proteins, such as fresh fish and meats, as well as soups, lasagna and vegetables.
In fiscal year 2013, Darden restaurants contributed 11 million pounds of cooked food to local food banks across the United States and Canada. That's enough to feed 3,250 families of four, three meals a day for an entire year. With full participation from all Darden restaurants, the program has donated more than 66 million pounds of surplus food to families in need since its inception in 2003.
It takes time and financial resources to go through the process of donating the food, but it’s at the heart of who we are and how we believe we should give back to the communities we serve. On World Food Day and every day, we thank our more than 200,000 team members who are committed to doing this the right way.
To learn more about what you can do as an individual, family, neighborhood or business to address food insecurity in your community and around the world, check out www.worldfooddayusa.org and www.feedingamerica.org.
For more about the Darden Harvest program, see the April 2012 spotlight on NBC’s "Rock Center with Brian Williams."