Foodservice Steps Up Efforts to End Childhood Hunger (and score points with Millennials)

sosnkhMore than 16 million children in this nation face hunger, an issue we believe should be owned and, in large part, resolved by the foodservice industry. Restaurants around the nation are doing their part, gearing up for the annual Dine Out for No Kid Hungry campaign in September.

By connecting kids in need with nutritious food and teaching their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals, No Kid Hungry surrounds children with healthy food where they live, learn and play. The campaign is led by national anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength and backed by industry suppliers and allied organizations.

We’re proud to be one of those partners, donating a percentage of our 2013 newsletter subscription and conference registration fees to the No Kid Hungry campaign. In addition, we’re helping raise awareness of the program, with the goal of increasing the number of participating restaurants to more than 20,000 this September.

How Chains are Getting Involved

More than 8,200 restaurants took part in the 2012 Dine Out for No Kid Hungry campaign, raising more than $5.9 million. Participating restaurants collected funds in their own ways, including:

  • Ted’s Montana Grill offered guests a $5 gift certificate for every donation of $5 or more
  • 1,100 Denny’s restaurants sold coupon booklets, with each $5 worth of coupons costing just a $3 donation
  • Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers gave its customers, in exchange for a donation as small as $1, a certificate for a buy-one-get-one-free combo box

Corner Bakery Café got its customers involved in last year’s campaign by offering, in exchange for a $1 donation, a voucher for a free Whoopie Pie on a subsequent visit; for a $5 donation, customers got a booklet of offers worth $45. The 147-unit chain raised more than $300,000—or more than $2,000 per unit.

The example set by Corner Bakery Café was presented at a well-attended educational session at this year’s National Restaurant Show by Sheila Bennett, director of Share Our Strength’s Dine Out for No Kid Hungry program. Corner Bakery Café wanted to embrace the heartfelt desire of its team members and franchisees to give back, she said. But the chain also wanted to encourage frequency of visits from its guests. High redemption rates for coupons (37 percent for the Whoopie Pie offer, 25 percent for other offers) are clear evidence that it succeeded.

Consumer Perspectives

Consumers increasingly care about corporate social responsibility and, in particular, corporate giving. Some of the reasons were explored by the two other panelists at that NRA Show session: John Scroggins, vice president of Noble, and Sara Monnette, Technomic’s director of consumer and market research. While consumers of all ages are showing more interest in social responsibility on the part of the businesses they patronize, both speakers pinpointed the Millennial generation—the 68 million Americans born between 1977 and 1992, a quarter of the adult population—as the primary locus of this new mindset.

Diverse, tolerant, progressive and expressive, Millennials have grown up in a world where their basic needs are met, shifting them up the value paradigm; they gravitate toward brands that fulfill their self-actualization needs by sharing and supporting their values. In other words, a company’s reputation can encourage or deter Millennials’ purchases.

When choosing a restaurant, 62 percent of Millennials say they look for one that is socially responsible, acting in ways that benefit society at large; 54 percent want the restaurants they patronize to give back to the community through charitable involvement. Those are larger percentages than we see for either Baby Boomers or Generation X.

And the cause that Millennials most want restaurants to support? Children’s welfare, mentioned as a top concern by 62 percent. Not far behind is alleviation of hunger, a key issue for 52 percent.

Proving once again—It’s possible to do well by doing good. Since summer 2011, the No Kid Hungry campaign has helped provide 34 million meals to kids in need. As more and more restaurants and their foodservice partners join the campaign, here’s hoping for another record-breaking September. And with socially conscious Millennial customers increasing their spending power year by year, we can all hope we soon reach a future with No Kid Hungry.

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Technomic

Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. Its services include numerous publications and digital products, as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry.

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