When I learned that Olive Garden had an opportunity to cater a meal for the families of the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub tragedy during a remembrance ceremony, I was honored. Today marks the second anniversary of the shooting in Orlando, FL, and the onePULSE Foundation planned a ceremony to honor the victims. Family members from across the country are visiting Orlando to attend the memorial and a ceremonial ringing of the bells.
How could Darden help? We could do what we do best — provide a warm, delicious meal for the family members as they spent time together.
I was in the perfect position to help pull this off as co-chair of the Darden Pride Alliance Employee Resource Group, an LGBTQ ally and a member of the communications team that supports Olive Garden. I knew the right people to help execute the event, and I was excited to coordinate. Sarah King, Darden’s chief HR officer, laid the groundwork and put me in contact with the onePULSE Foundation. Olive Garden executives shared our passion about the brand’s participation.
So today, with the help of two Orlando restaurants, we are serving more than 300 people with Olive Garden’s Create Your Own Pasta Station. Guests will dine on 150 pounds of pasta, 2,700 ounces of sauce and 300 meatballs plus lots of salad and 600 breadsticks. Olive Garden team members volunteered to staff the event so it would be flawless.
We are honored to provide the backdrop for today’s event, which aligns with our mission of treating everyone like family. It will be a difficult day for many in Orlando, but Olive Garden takes pride in doing its small part to support the families and loved ones of those we have lost.