Volunteers of Operation Feeding Freedom VIII, sponsored by OSI Restaurant Partners, LLC, have returned from their trip to Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. This year, 28 volunteers carried out OSI's annual mission to bring a taste of home from its restaurants in America to U.S.and Coalition Forces. This year's trip represented the largest feeding of troops to date by OSI and involved volunteers from all five of the company's brands: Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, and Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine.
"OSI has a long history of providing support to our Armed Forces both at home and abroad," says Liz Smith, CEO of OSI Restaurant Partners. "This annual mission has proven to be a valuable experience for our volunteers and a huge morale boost to the troops. Good food is an everyday comfort at home and they enjoy having the opportunity to serve a few of our classic signature dishes to those serving so far away from home and their loved ones. It is indeed an honor for all of us at OSI to pay tribute to these brave men and women who are defending freedom overseas."
The first launch of Operation Feeding Freedom began with a team of Outbackers who traveled to Afghanistanin 2002 to feed the troops stationed there. Since that trip, more than 150 members of the OSI team have made another seven trips serving soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Djibouti, Kuwait, Bahrain, Turkey, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and aboard the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf. Overall, 167,000 troops have been served at numerous bases, forward operating bases and command and control locations.
"This operation was made possible through the support of United States Central Command and the Services,” says Dave Alvarado, OSI team leader for Operation Feeding Freedom. “They have worked hand in hand with us over the past eight years in providing logistical support and military escorts during the trip to ensure our team's safety. Additionally, OSI is appreciative of the significant contributions made by our purveyors and vendors. Through their generosity, the menu featured Bloomin' Onions, calamari, boule bread with herbs and olive oil, cavatappi amatriciana, chargrilled steaks, ravioli, and cheesecake for dessert."
Operation Feeding Freedom is part of OSI's ongoing commitment to support the troops. Earlier this year and with the help of its customers, Outback Steakhouse donated $1 million to Operation Homefront, a non-profit organization providing everyday and emergency support for active troops, veterans, and their families.