The Darden Foundation
Since 1995, the Darden Foundation has awarded more than $82 million in grants to organizations such as Feeding America and the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF). Darden supports the NRAEF and its mission to enhance the restaurant industry’s service to the public through education, community engagement, and promotion of career opportunities.
Our funding helps support ProStart, a national high school program that introduces students to career opportunities in the restaurant industry and provides them with an industry-driven curriculum on topics ranging from culinary techniques to management skills.
Darden also sponsors NRAEF Summer Institutes, which are a series of intensive workshops that provide ProStart educators with a forum to learn cutting-edge skills to take back to the classroom, as well as educator and student scholarships.
Aiding the Fight Against Hunger
As a restaurant company, it’s impossible to ignore the reality of the need for food. Nearly 50 million Americans – including 16 million children – are at risk of hunger. And, each year in America, about 35 million tons of food waste reaches landfills and incinerators. Darden believes we have a unique opportunity to help change these numbers for the better.
Launched in 2003, the Darden Harvest program offers an alternative to discarding food – and a mechanism for getting fresh and healthy food to people who need it. Each day, across every one of our 1,500 restaurants, we “harvest” surplus, wholesome food that isn’t served to guests and we safely prepare it for donation. Through a partnership with Food Donation Connection, which coordinates donations across the country, the food is then served at food banks, shelters, and other charitable organizations.
Since the program’s inception, more than 91 million pounds of food – totaling more than 75 million meals – has been donated through Darden Harvest, including eight million pounds of food in 2015. Darden Harvest also diverts millions of pounds of surplus food from waste streams every year, making it a key part of our strategy to one day send zero waste to landfills.
Watch the Darden Harvest program spotlighted on NBC News.