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One in five children go hungry in the U.S. each day. It was that stat, as well as a childhood spent among those below the poverty line, that convinced Monte Jump, Back Yard Burger’s chief operations and marketing officer, to get his brand involved in Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry platform for the first time this year.
This month, Back Yard Burger, along with 82 other restaurant brands, nine franchise groups, and 252 independent operators, will help D.C.–based nonprofit Share Our Strength raise an estimated $10 million through the “Dine Out for No Kid Hungry” campaign, a fundraising program targeted toward foodservice operators and brands. The list of participants includes a growing number of quick-service operators, a segment of the industry that Share Our Strength hopes to get more involved moving into the future.
Money raised during the month-long campaign will fund nutrition programs and other healthy-eating initiatives aimed at children and families. Since launching No Kid Hungry in 2008, Share Our Strength and its foodservice partners have raised $19.3 million and provided more than 100 million meals.
“I know what it’s like to go hungry,” Jump says. “And our stores are located in areas of the country [the Rustbelt and Appalachia] where the notion of childhood hunger really hits home. Once I learned about ‘Dine Out,’ I knew we had to get involved.”
Back Yard Burgers is providing three ways for guests to donate to No Kid Hungry: a traditional drop box, prompts at the register, and a QR code–driven online component. Back Yard Burgers is also investing in point-of-purchase (POP) materials and encouraging its franchisees to participate in the campaign, as well. A representative from Share Our Strength even attended the brand’s summer convention in Nashville, Tennessee, to make the plea in person.
“We are prepared to make this campaign successful,” Jump says, noting that Back Yard Burgers is treating the program the same way it treats a new product launch in terms of investment and outreach.
Equally committed to making its first-year participation in “Dine Out” successful is Fort Worth, Texas–based Vasari LLC, the second-largest Dairy Queen franchise group in the U.S. Its CEO, William Spae, says he anticipates investing $10,000–$15,000 across Vasari’s 75-plus units to sponsor “Dine Out.” Customers who donate $1 to No Kid Hungry will receive a free cone through the month of September, and, in addition to posting POP materials and yards signs, Vasari Dairy Queens are promoting the campaign at events throughout their communities.
“It’s really not that expensive to get out there and circulate this info to the public,” Spae says. “We had vendor partners participate, and the most valuable advertising we’ll have is word of mouth from our crews.”
Oklahoma City–based Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt also tapped vendors to support its “Dine Out” efforts. Dole is partnering with Orange Leaf to conduct the #enditwithorange Facebook campaign September 8–12 and a Twitter campaign on September 20 to drive purchases of limited-time Share Our Strength yogurt cups, online donations, and general awareness of Share Our Strength and No Kid Hungry. Cups sell for $1, with all proceeds going to No Kid Hungry. Dole is matching cup donations up to $5,000 and donating $1 for every retweeted #enditwithorange message sent on September 20, up to $5,000.
“Childhood hunger is an important platform for us at the corporate level,” says Karley Hofer, director of brand development for Orange Leaf. “Kids and mothers are a big part of our demographics.”
This year marks the second year that Orange Leaf has participated in “Dine Out.” Last year, the chain’s 300-plus units raised $80,000 through the sale of special-edition Go Orange cups. Hofer credits the Share Our Strength team with helping Orange Leaf make its initial involvement in the campaign a success.
“It’s really easy for restaurants to take part because Share Our Strength has such great resources,” Hofer says. “They provide informational videos, message documents, and employee training tools.”
That support encouraged Orange Leaf to ramp up its efforts in 2014. The company is recruiting other restaurants in Oklahoma City to participate in a city-wide “Dine Out” event the week of September 22, which Hofer says is putting “a local message to a national problem.”
“This year, we’re focused on building awareness and advocates, not just fundraising,” Hofer says.
“Local and regional identification with a big problem is why we believe we’re seeing more quick-service brands getting involved,” says Jennifer Kaleba, senior manager of communications for Share Our Strength. “You’re seeing more quick serves, national and independent, making the effort to get involved in their communities. ‘Dine Out’ allows them to be a part of the hunger solution.”
But not all quick-serve brands are new to the cause. Arby’s, Corner Bakery, Bruegger’s Bagels, Togo’s, Raising Cane’s, La Madeleine, and Tin Drum are longtime supporters. Corner Bakery’s CMO, Diana Hovey, for example, often visits and recruits other brands on Share Our Strength’s behalf.
“We have a really dedicated team of advocates that want to make their mark on this issue,” says Sheila Bennett, director of Share Our Strength's “Dine Out for No Kid Hungry.” “They are fully invested. They live and breathe the message of ending childhood hunger in the United States.”