Restaurants donate food to help battle hunger

JACKSON, Tenn. — National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week kicked off Monday, and local restaurants are helping those less fortunate.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-2-18-20-pmBattling hunger is an ongoing issue, and local restaurants help not only this week but every day of the year. This week just allows them to spread awareness.

“It’s a great way for us to be able to be a stronger community partner,” Rich Fillak said.

He is the managing partner of Longhorn Steak House, and he bagged meat trimmings in the kitchen Monday. They will be sent to RIFA to help feed those in need at the soup kitchen.

“Instead of discarding perfectly good, wholesome food that we have at the end of each day that didn’t sell, we bag it up, cook it if it’s raw, and freeze it. Each week, RIFA comes out and picks up all of our food,” Fillak said.

Additionally, Longhorn donates baked potatoes, bread, soups and sauces.

“We have volunteers, very committed volunteers, that go around each week, sometimes twice a week to pick up from various restaurants that are supporting our ministry through our soup kitchen,” said Dan Ward, a volunteer coordinator at RIFA.

Fillak said Longhorn has been able to donate 26,000 pounds of food, which equates to 21,000 meals. Plus, Longhorn isn’t the only restaurant that is giving back to the community.

“Popeye’s, which is a great big supporter, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steak, Pizza Hut, Shirley’s Bakery supports us, a couple of the doughnut shops, so it’s a wonderful ministry,” Ward said.

Ward said with the amount of individuals they serve, donations rotate through quickly. “Our soup kitchen is open 365 days year. It never shuts down. Anywhere from 48,000 to 65,000 meals a year are served in the soup kitchen.”

Ward said he would love to see more restaurants get involved to help the community. Donations are typically the unused, fresh food that didn’t sell each day.

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