Fall hunger-relief initiatives like September’s Hunger Action Month and last week’s World Food Day from the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) have spurred quick serves into action to thwart the global hunger problem.

Taco Bell raised a record $3 million through its World Hunger Relief promotion, which ran September 26 through October 17. Customers were offered an opportunity to donate $1 to the WFP, which reaches more than 97 million people in 80 countries.

The WFP uses the donations to build sustainable farms in local economies, and to produce and purchase wheat, maize, rice, and blended foods that are delivered as meals to hungry youth. Each dollar raised by the WFP can feed four teenagers, according to the organization.

Amy Kavanaugh, executive director for the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, says the foodservice industry has a duty to help combat the global hunger issue.

“Seeing the work that the World Food Programme does and how they’re catching all aspects of the community with health, women in the area, education, food,” Kavanaugh says, “it makes you realize that we can and should do more. We have an opportunity and responsibility to give back.”

Kavanaugh’s passion for the cause is fueled by trips the Yum team made to Honduras and Ecuador to see hunger first-hand. The funds Taco Bell raises in partnership with the WFP are used to build kitchens in schools and to provide meals for students in those and other nations.

Kavanaugh says many children attend school primarily for the meal, with education merely an added benefit.

“The beauty of this is that we get to nourish their mind and their spirit, as well as the body, because parents will send their children to school for the meal,” she says. “It’s hard to convey how meaningful that work is and how proud I am of the brand and the whole team.”

Toppers Pizza is another quick serve that has dedicated itself to fighting world hunger through a partnership with Feeding America, which supplies food to more than 37 million Americans each year.

“It’s a fabulous organization, very efficient, that really goes to the heart of charity, period,” says Scott Gittrich, CEO and president of Toppers Pizza. “It assists with people who are hungry, and if you can’t help people who are hungry, then you just can’t help somebody. It gets no more basic than that.”

Toppers’ Feeding America promotion began August 5 and will conclude November 3., Toppers has instituted various projects to raise funds for the cause throughout the fall. In September, team members wore Feeding America T-shirts and sold them in stores, with all proceeds going to fight hunger. For three days in September, when customers ordered triple orders of the Original Topperstix, the brand donated eight meals to local food banks.

Toppers is also donating $1 to Feeding America from every two medium pizzas ordered.

Gittrich says the brand is on target to provide more than half a million meals with the funds raised. He adds that the project has unified the brand and demonstrated Toppers’ commitment to its franchise communities.

“We had the opportunity combined to do something that was even bigger than every store manager and franchisee doing a little thing here and a little thing there. We could pool our efforts,” Gittrich says. “Seventy or 80 percent of the funds that we send to them nationally get returned to the food banks and the zip codes where we raised the funds. So our franchisees … can feel good that they are raising funds or that they are donating funds that are going to positively impact their community.”

By Marlee Murphy

Charitable Giving, Marketing & Promotions, News, Taco Bell, Toppers Pizza