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National Restaurant Association - 8 ways restaurants help their communities

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8 ways restaurants help their communities

It's not too late to apply for one of the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation's industry awards. Winners of our Restaurant Neighbor and Faces of Diversity awards receive $5,000 to support a favorite charity or community project. Don't miss your opportunity to apply.

Read about some of the applicants for our Restaurant Neighbor Award.

Pei Wei, Dallas

Pei Wei is an Asian-style fast casual chain with more than 200 stores nationwide.  

What it supports: In response to devastating storms, Pei Wei Restaurants throughout the Dallas area participated in a “Pei It Forward” campaign.

How it helps: During the “Pei It Forward” campaign, participating Pei Wei restaurants donated 20 percent of net proceeds to the Salvation Army to benefit flood relief efforts in Texas. In one week, Pei Wei donated more than $12,000 to flood victims.


The Dhaba, Tempe, Ariz.

The Dhaba, in India Plaza, Arizona’s largest South Asian Shopping Center, serves traditional Punjabi food.  

What it supports: The Dhaba supports its community by sourcing locally for produce and meat, as well as staff. Employees are involved in several community projects and believe that promoting health and wellness empowers people to succeed.

How it helps: The Dhaba donates almost 4,000 meals annually, as well as warm clothing during the winter months to many families in the neighborhood. The restaurant has committed 1 percent of all proceeds to local charities and provides summer opportunities to high school students.  


Via Real, Irving, Texas

This family-owned local restaurant has been in business for 30 years. It serves a mix of southwestern cuisine that brings together Mexican, Spanish and Native American culinary practices.

What it supports: The Pat Mathers Scholarship Foundation was founded in 2005 in honor of the owner’s late husband and business partner. Because Mathers was a large supporter of the Irving Police Department, the foundation awards scholarships to college-bound children of police officers and civilians who work for the department. The foundation hopes no child will be separated from a quality education because of financial hardship.

How it helps: Via Real hosts an annual fundraising dinner, and all proceeds go to the foundation. It raises about $35,000 each year, funding 37 college scholarships in the past eight years. Recipients must excel in academics, community service and extracurricular activities, and exhibit great ambition to reach their goals.


Runza National, Lincoln, Neb.

Runza was founded in 1949 and now has 82 locations in Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Iowa, where it serves sandwiches, burgers, crinkle-cut fries and homemade onion rings.

What it supports: Runza’s priority is serving kids, and in the last 12 years, the organization has raised more than $300,000 for schools and libraries in the Great Books for Great Kids program. Runza also partners with TeamMates Mentoring Program, which pairs volunteers from the community with high school students in order to provide support and encouragement on their path towards post-secondary education.

How it helps: Through a partnership that began in 2009, Runza organizes an annual chain-wide fundraiser for TeamMates Mentoring Program, and provides more than 1,000 lunches for graduating high school seniors. Runza regularly conducts fundraiser nights, donates food and supplies, and coordinates job shadowing and mentoring throughout its locations.


Figaro’s Italian Pizza, Salem, Ore.

Figaro’s Pizza has locations mostly in Oregon, but also in California, Montana, Washington, Wisconsin and South Carolina. The chain, founded in 1981, serves baked and take-and-bake pizzas.

What it supports: Figaro’s is a proud supporter of H.E.L.P, The Charity, a nonprofit the organization established to support educational organizations that help secure the brightest possible future for children in the community. H.E.L.P stands for Helping Education with Love and Pizza.

How it H.E.L.P.(s): Since 2010, it has issued more than 400 grants to schools and school programs for music camp scholarships, summer reading programs, sports equipment and school field trips. Figaro’s matches every dollar donated by franchisees to the nonprofit.

Café Amalfi at Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort

Café Amalfi is an ocean-front restaurant in the Hilton Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Resort.

What it supports: Since 2008, Chef Kevin Luque has worked with the nonprofit Feed A Family, which provides food to hungry families during the holiday season.

How it helps: Luque helps provide a traditional turkey dinner to 500 area families on Dec. 24, and the Café Amalfi kitchen also prepares enough food to feed an additional 2,000 people at Myrtle Beach-area shelters.


Café Momentum, Dallas

Café Momentum is a restaurant and culinary training facility based in Dallas that serves fresh, locally sourced American cuisine Thursday through Saturday.

What it supports: Café Momentum is a training facility where at-risk youth who have spent time in juvenile facilities receive intensive culinary, job and life-skill training, as well as additional mentorship and support.

How it helps: Working with the Dallas County Juvenile Justice Department, Café Momentum creates an environment for youth to gain self-confidence, learn marketable skills and ensure a more successful future. During the program, at-risk young people rotate through every aspect of the restaurant from waiting tables to washing dishes. Many enter the café’s five-part program from Dallas-based juvenile detention centers, and the paid internship gives them the opportunity to develop leadership, social and vocational skills.


Culver’s of Darboy, Appleton, Wis.

The first Culver’s opened in Sauk City, Wis., in 1984. The chain is known for its ButterBurgers and frozen custard. 

What it supports: Culver’s of Darboy hosts an annual Christmas Eve dinner for the less fortunate members of the community.

How it helps: By partnering with local school social workers, the Culver’s of Darboy identifies families in need and hosts and invitation-only dinner the night of Dec. 24. Children receive gifts, and families feast on a chicken buffet dinner. Every year, the team feeds about 300 people, and families receive a bag of food to take home.


Does your restaurant give back to the community? Tell us how, and apply for a 2016 Restaurant Neighbor Award.

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