In addition to the Hillside-based nonprofit, nine other food banks across the U.S. – including ones in Houston, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Tucson – will also receive a 26-foot truck, the Orlando-headquartered restaurant group announced in a Sept. 14 press release.
Made possible through a $2 million grant from the Darden Restaurants Inc. Foundation and support from partners Penske Truck Leasing and the Lineage Foundation, these vehicles can transport up to 12,000 pounds of food at a time, making them an important part of mobile food pantry programs at food banks with the greatest need.
Of the 38 million Americans who are food insecure, more than 625,000 live in New Jersey, according to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.
As the largest anti-hunger and anti-poverty organization in the state, the organization distributes 108 million pounds of food and provides 90 million meals annually through its more than 800 community partners, which include local soup kitchens, pantries and shelters.
The nonprofit also employs more than 200 workers who purchase, collect and package food orders for distribution, help people in need through access initiatives and perform outreach in communities with limited resources.
Vice President of Operations David Goldstein said in a statement to NJBIZ, “Our new 26-foot refrigerated truck from Darden, Penske, and Lineage is going to allow us to serve our community by delivering after-school meals from our 5,000-square-foot commercial kitchen to sites across the state that participate in our Kids Cafe program.”
“This donation makes an extraordinary difference as we work on a daily basis to ensure that every child in New Jersey has the healthy food they need to learn, grow, and play. Thank you, Darden, Penske, and Lineage, for working alongside us to fight hunger in the state,” he said.
Since 2021, Darden and its partners have provided 35 food banks in 18 states with trucks, along with money for operating expenses.
Additionally, Darden’s family of restaurants – which includes Olive Garden, Yard House, Seasons 52, Eddie V’s, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Ruth’s Chris Steak House – are continuing to participate in the company’s harvest food donation program.
Each week, team members prepare unserved, nutritious food like pasta, steak, chicken, vegetables and soup for donation to a local nonprofit – rather than disposing of it. Over two decades, the scale of Darden’s 1,900-plus locations have provided more than 136 million pounds of food for those who need it, amounting to 113 million meals, according to the company.
“All of us at Darden have a shared purpose to nourish and delight everyone we serve, and our commitment to service extends beyond our restaurants into our communities,” said Rick Cardenas, president and CEO of Darden Restaurants. “As a restaurant company, we are able to make a meaningful difference in the fight against hunger. Through our long-standing partnership with Feeding America and our legacy Harvest food donation program, we can help individuals and families gain access to nutritious food.”