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 Restaurants recognizes our unique opportunity to help with these staggering numbers.
We strive to fight the battle against hunger in every community we serve. The Darden Harvest program offers an alternative to discarding food through a partnership with Food Donation Connection, which coordinates donations to food banks and other charitable organizations across the country. Each day, across every single one of our 1,500 restaurants, we “harvest” surplus, wholesome food that isn’t served to guests and we safely prepare it for donation. These aren't leftovers; this is unused, fresh food. The food is then served at food banks, shelters and other charitable organizations. The families and children get many high-value proteins, such as fresh fish and meats, as well as soups, lasagna and vegetables.
In fiscal year 2013, Darden restaurants contributed 11 million pounds of cooked food to local food banks across the United States and Canada. That’s enough to feed 3,250 families of four, three meals a day for an entire year. With full participation from all Darden restaurants, the program has donated more than 77 million pounds of surplus food – totaling more than 100 million meals – to families in need since its inception in 2003. From a food waste perspective, Darden Harvest diverts 11 million pounds of surplus food from waste streams annually and is key to achieving the company's goal to one day send zero waste to landfills.