The good news: Darden Restaurants has partnered with Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S., to provide assistance, including enhancing mobile food pantry programs with refrigerated box trucks, in five communities in the country with high levels of food insecurity.
The bad news: Orlando is one of the five communities.
Which could also be seen as good news, since Central Florida’s problem with hunger, especially among children and people of color, has been a well-known issue, one that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Through a $500,000 from Orlando-based Darden’s foundation and support from Penske Truck Leasing and Lineage Logistics, five food banks, including Second Harvest of Central Florida, will receive a 26-foot refrigerated truck to help get food to areas that need it. The other organizations receiving aid include: Feeding the Valley Food Bank in Midland, Georgia; Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana, Shreveport; Mid-South Food Bank, Memphis; and San Antonio Food Bank.
“As a restaurant company, we are uniquely positioned to make a meaningful difference in the fight against hunger, and we are proud to partner with Feeding America to make a positive impact in communities where it is needed most,” Darden chairman and CEO Gene Lee said in a statement.
Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, chief executive officer for Feeding America, said: “Hunger in America is a devastating reality for millions of our neighbors. The pandemic has created an increased need for food assistance and caused major disruptions for charitable food distribution.”
Darden, whose brands include Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze and others, also has an ongoing program called Harvest, which each day collects surplus foods from its restaurants and donates it to nonprofits. Since its inception, in 2003, the Harvest program has donated more than 120 million pounds of food.