Restaurant makes sure seniors eat well

When Pat Schneider, director of Stonehaven Senior Center, received a call from LongHorn Steakhouse offering to provide food donations to the center, she didn’t expect much. She pictured a box of food now and then that would provide welcome variety to residents who patiently endured menu offerings limited by the nonprofit’s modest budget. A few weeks later, though, when she arrived at the restaurant to make the first pick-up of food, Pat found herself quite mistaken—and happily surprised.

“I didn’t think they were going to give what they gave,” she explains. “When they called, I said ‘yes,’ but I didn’t realize what a blessing it would be. They took the cart into the freezer [at the restaurant] and loaded it up and brought it out. My jaw just dropped—meat, potatoes, bread, and much more—it was overwhelming, all that they gave us. The cart had three shelves, and all the shelves were filled. I had to find ways to fit it all in our freezer at Stonehaven. It is such a help and continues to be so nice. I am glad that I said ‘yes’—what they give feeds a lot of people.”

Stonehaven Director Pat Schnieder with Mike Frazier manager of Longhorn Steakhouse

In donating to the Stonehaven Senior Center, the LongHorn Steakhouse joins thousands of other Darden Restaurants around the nation in contributing to local nonprofits through the organization’s Harvest Food Donation Program. For more than ten years, Darden Restaurants have been seeking to help feed the hungry in local communities by “harvesting” surplus, wholesome food that has not been served in the restaurants. This food may include everything from fresh fish and other meats to soups, vegetables, and breads. To date, the Darden Harvest program has donated more than 62 million pounds of food to local food banks and 18 million pounds of food to local charities.

“The Harvest program began due to a lot of feedback from employees and team members,” explains Michael Frazier, managing partner at the LongHorn Steakhouse in Georgetown. “We follow strict rotation guidelines regarding how quickly food is used, so we were throwing away a lot of food. One of our core values as a business is to be involved in community and to be good citizens, and the program is a way to do this. It is wonderful that food we don’t use in the restaurant, instead of ending up in the garbage, can be turned into a nice, wholesome meal for people in need.”

For Pat and the residents at Stonehaven, the Harvest Program has had a lasting impact on day-to-day life. “Meat can be so expensive,” says Pat, “and they give us so much meat. We make roasts, carne asada, stroganoff—I made chili the other day. It is endless what you can do with it, and I’m very thankful for the program, because we enjoy the fruits of their labor. I pick up food every Tuesday and Friday, and every time, it’s very helpful. It’s such a blessing, and we really enjoy it.”

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