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Wiping Out Childhood Hunger
Share Our Strength aims to sign on 5,000 restaurants by September
Share Our Strength's Great American Dine Out

For nearly 18 years, “Peace, Love, and Crabs” has been the t-shirt slogan for Joe’s Crab Shack.

But from September 21 through 28, the Houston, Texas-based chain will modify its motto to “Peace, Love, and Kids” and donate a portion of those shirt sales to Share Our Strength’s campaign to wipe out childhood hunger in America, the Great American Dine Out.

“I just respect the organization so much,” says Ray Blanchette, the CEO of Joe’s Crab Shack and Great American Dine Out board member. “Their mission is terrific. Ending childhood hunger in America is a worthy cause and we are jumping in with both feet. When we handed off this project to the marketing team, they became so excited because of the meaning behind it. When you see how meaningful this is, how can you not get excited about it?”

That’s just the kind of response Share Our Strength officials are hoping to inspire among others in the foodservice industry. The Washington, D.C.–based charity’s mission is to help the 12.6 million American children who are at risk of hunger. The Great American Dine Out is part of that effort.

For one week in September, restaurants across the country will contribute 1 to 5 percent of sales to the campaign. Some, like Joe’s, will designate the proceeds of a menu item or product to the cause.

“So far, 3,000 restaurants have signed on,” says Debbie Shore, who co-founded Share Our Strength in 1984 with her brother, Billy, in response to the famine in Ethiopia. “Our goal is to hit 5,000 by September.”

This is the first year quick-serves are actively being recruited. Quick-serves already on board include: Captains D’s, Caribou Coffee, Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits, Wendy’s, and Buffalo Wild Wings

We know profit margins are tough right now, but even if they made a contribution of $100 for the week, and we captured the attention of every quick-serve restaurant, it would mean $25 million.”

“We are trying to close the systems gap for people who can’t get nutritious food for their families,” Shore says. “That means school breakfast and lunch programs or after school meal programs. Our strategy is to increase access to public and private programs providing food those who need it. If we can galvanize the [quick-service] sector, we can make sure that all children have access to nutritious food.”

Since its inception in 2004, The Great American Dine Out has raised more than $200 million. Funds raised through the campaign are granted to programs promoting and facilitating youth access to nutritious foods. Funds are also granted to organizations that offer high-quality nutrition education to low-income families through Share Our Strength’s Operation Frontline.

With 12.6 million children facing hunger, a consolidated, industry-wide effort is essential to make a significant impact, says Alicia Thompson, vice president of communications and public relations for Popeye’s. “We think this is very important, and hope more food and restaurant industry chains will get involved,” she adds.

To encourage brands to get involved, Share Our Strength is providing marketing and promotional tools and accepting enrollment as late as September 27.

“We know profit margins are tough right now, but even if they made a contribution of $100 for the week, and we captured the attention of every quick-serve restaurant, it would mean $25 million,” Shore says.

“I’m calling people I know in the industry to get on board,” Blanchett says. “This is an opportunity to pull together, make a difference, and influence our reputation.”

Get Involved

Join the campaign with these easy steps:

  • Log on and sign up at www.greatamericandineout.org,
  • Designate your contribution of up to 5 percent;
  • Receive ongoing support. Share Our Strength builds awareness of the campaign through media and corporate partners, and uses the Great American Dine Out web site to provide downloadable marketing and promotional tools, tips, and best practices for promoting the campaign.

Quick Facts

The average monthly food stamp benefit is $93 per person—barely $1 per meal.

Households with children have a food insecurity rate almost double that of households without children, increasing their risk of hunger tremendously.

More than one-third of individuals served by food banks are children under 18.

$50 can help provide 48 preschool children with lunch for a day.

$85 can help provide a mother and her child with meals and shelter for a week.

$100 can help provide 25 bags of age-appropriate, nutritious foods for toddlers whose parents rely on Food Banks to properly feed their children.

$145 can help buy 70 bags of fresh fruits and vegetables for low-income families.

$500 can help provide a truckload of food to a food pantry to help serve an underprivileged community.

Sources: Share Our Strength (www.strength.org)