Carrollton-based company 'forks' over some help to local food banks: TGI Friday's continues tradition
More than 50 million Americans struggle with hunger every year, and one local business is doing its part to help end that plight.
For the second consecutive year, Carrollton-based T.G.I. Friday's has partnered with Feeding America, an organization that helps provide food to more than 37 million Americans each year through its network of more than 200 local food banks.
Derek Young, director of responsible business for Carlson Restaurants, owner of T.G.I. Friday's, said hunger alleviation is one of the core areas of focus for the company's responsible business strategy.
"We believe it is our duty to drive positive change and contribute to the well-being of the communities in which we live and operate," he said. "As part of our commitment to this issue, Friday's actively engages team members - both at our corporate office and within all of our restaurants - to support Hunger Action Month in September."
As part of Hunger Action Month, team members volunteer at local food banks affiliated with Feeding America, host meetings within the restaurants for these important organizations and donate food to support the organizations' events, Young said.
"For the past two years, all proceeds from the T.G.I. Friday's World Bartender Championship have been donated to Feeding America," Young said. "We are continuing those efforts during this year's competitions. Last year, we raised enough money through WBC to donate approximately 2.4 million meals for Feeding America."
Cheryl "Action" Jackson, president and CEO of Minnie's Food Pantry in Plano, which serves several North Texas communities, said T.G.I. Friday's is a shining example of what organizations can do to help nonprofits and the community make a difference in the lives of people in need.
The company recently donated a vehicle to the pantry to reduce the number of trips to the local food bank, a big issue to Minnie's Food Pantry.
"We used to have to donate three to four trips to the North Texas Food Bank, but [after T.G.I. Friday's donated a vehicle to the pantry,] we can get it done in one trip," Jackson said. "Not only did they donate it, but they also paid to get it wrapped. It's one of the most beautiful vehicles in the world if you ask me."
While T.G.I. Friday's encourages its employees to provide an energetic, fun experience for consumers, Young said the company realizes that there are many people in the community who are unable to dine out or feed their families.
"With our partnership with Feeding America and our support of Hunger Action Month, we hope to not only provide aid to the people in our communities who are hungry, but to give a voice to the one in six people in the United States who need help to get a meal," he said. "This isn't a problem that has a quick cure, or can go away on its own - it's something that takes long-term commitment on all levels, from our corporate team to the bartenders and servers donating time to local food pantries. T.G.I. Friday's knows food, and we certainly don't want to sit back while our own neighbors go without."
Last year, T.G.I. Friday's raised enough money to donate 2.4 million meals for Feeding America through the World Bartender Championship.
Working with Feeding America and food banks has been a longstanding tradition for T.G.I. Friday's, a tradition that has filtered to employees who volunteer at Minnie's Food Pantry.
Jackson said T.G.I. Friday's isn't just about donating money, but time as well.
"All of the employees at the corporate office have come through this month," she said. "One day we had 60 employees volunteer. They are so hands-on and passionate about reducing hunger in our community that it's amazing to me. They are not about talk, they walk the walk and I love it."
The company also donates food to the pantry, making what Jackson calls a full circle of giving.
"They are a nonprofit's dream," she said. "Some organizations will donate money, but they won't donate time or they won't be a voice. But they embody everything that Minnie's Food Pantry stands for when it comes to reducing hunger in the community. They volunteer, they donate their time, money, products, food and they spread the word. They are advocates."