Helping America's Hungry

Ruby Tuesday Makes Aiding Food Banks Part of Business Plan

MARYVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 22, 2008--All across America, the cost of groceries and the number of Americans unemployed are on the rise. As a result, food banks are struggling to feed the ever-growing number of people who are at risk of hunger.

"In Florida, for example, a single father of two was forced to close an appliance store he owned in a small town," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of America's Second Harvest. "He has since been working a number of low-wage odd jobs as a handyman, unable to find full-time employment in an economically depressed area. He recently turned to help from local food pantries and soup kitchens in order to feed his children. He is one of millions of hard-working American parents who struggle on a daily basis to feed their families."

Some companies are finding new ways to help. In the last few months, more than a million people have been fed because of a new business model put in place by Ruby Tuesday restaurants. The program is "Cookies for a Cause." Every time someone buys a dozen of Ruby Tuesday's gourmet cookies, 10 percent of the money they spend goes to the America's Second Harvest affiliate serving the area where the purchase was made. Now the restaurant chain is encouraging other businesses to try similar programs.

"Building it into the way we do business accomplishes several things," said Kimberly Grant, Ruby Tuesday Executive Vice President. "First and foremost, it means we give back to our communities on a continuing basis. It also lets our guests help, lets them know something about us a company, and helps all our team members understand the importance and the reward of helping others. We strongly urge other companies to see if this model can work for them and for whatever cause they choose to support.

"Hunger, sadly, is an ongoing problem," she added. "We knew we wanted to help, but we didn't want it be something we did for just a week or two. We wanted to help on an ongoing basis and where our restaurants are located."

In just a few months the program has netted food banks more than $65,000. That translates into more than a million meals.

"The rise in gas, energy, and fuel costs has forced more families to re-examine their food budget and unfortunately, has caused more families to turn to food assistance programs for support," said Beth Osborne Daponte, Ph.D., a senior researcher at Yale University and a technical advisor to the 2006 study on Hunger in America. "It's great to hear that Ruby Tuesday is taking up this issue and allowing their cookie-loving customers to become philanthropists."

"We are thrilled that Ruby Tuesday will be raising funds for us in such a creative and innovative way," said Escarra. "This long-term commitment to helping the millions of people in our nation who struggle to feed their families proves that the employees of Ruby Tuesday are good corporate citizens - and a wonderful asset to their community."

Information about Cookies for a Cause is printed on Ruby Tuesday menus and on cookie boxes to create guest awareness and encourage purchases that directly help fight hunger in America.

SOURCE: Ruby Tuesday

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