SOURCE: Darden Restaurants
The latest estimates performed by the city government reveal that Houston, TX is home to over 11,000 restaurants. This may explain why residents of the diverse city are said to eat out more than residents of any other city in the U.S. In fact, the svelte magazine editors at Men's Fitness dubbed Houston "America's Fattest City". Houston Mayor Annise Parker responded with a health awareness initiative.
Houstonians have long expressed a declining interest in household pots and pans and headed out to their favorite restaurants. Perhaps, the stainless steel items are best suited for musically-inclined toddlers. Maybe residents of the vast metropolis have discovered that it is better to give to DardenRestaurants, because Darden Restaurants believes in giving to those in need in Houston.
That's right. Darden Restaurants, the creators of the delightful Chicken Marsala at Olive Garden and the rich Cheddar Bay Biscuits at Red Lobster, donated more than 10 million pounds of food in 2012. If anyone can positively impact the fight against hunger, Darden can. The organization is the largest food service dining operator in North America.
Over the last decade, the Darden Harvest Program has partnered with Houston food banks to address food insecurity and provide over 750k pounds of high-quality sustenance. Within the same timeframe, Darden donated over 62 million pounds of food (or over 250k meals) to food-insecure households. Perfectly wholesome and safe to eat special menu items, soups, baked potatoes and unused ingredients are frozen and donated every week.
Food insecurity is an issue that plagues many Americans. Per FeedAmerica.org, 1 in every 6 Americans is hungry. Houston is no stranger to this issue. In Houston, 1 in every 3 children lives in a food insecure household. In fact, Harris County sits third in a ranking (behind New York and Los Angeles County) of the highest number of food insecure households in America.
Several other benefits to launching the Darden Harvest initiative include environmental waste reduction, increased employee engagement and the advancement of other significant health initiatives. In a display of their support of the Partnership for a Healthier America (a non-partisan non-profit organization), Darden pledged to fight childhood obesity and create healthier menu options for children. The responsible entity also launched an organization-wide Health and Wellness Commitment plan that aims to reduce the sodium content and caloric count of its restaurant menus by 10% (by 2016) and 20% (by 2021).
Darden Restaurants is doing a lot more than serving hot meals to its patrons. North America's largest full-service watering hole is changing the way that the world fights hunger and, in Houston and abroad, hunger is definitely a cause worth fighting for.
KEYWORDS: Hunger, Food Waste, Darden Harvest, Food Insecurity, houston philanthropy, darden, HEALTH AND WELLNESS