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Local restaurants help fight hunger

Longhorn Steakhouse donates extra food to foodbanks. (KTUL)

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) – At LongHorn Steakhouse, every canceled order, food that was prepped but not served or just extra items aren’t going to waste.

Michael Watts is the managing partner of the restaurant on 71st near South Mingo Road.

“Nothing goes to waste here,” he said. “The only thing that goes to waste is the food that was left on the plates and that goes in the trash.”

Whether it’s meat, veggies or even sauces that are still good but the restaurant doesn’t serve, they cook it, freeze it and then it’s picked up.

“We change menu promotions,” Watts said. “We’ll have items that have not sold in the timeframe that we had it and it’s coming off our menu so we’ll donate full cases of things at times.”

Nationwide, the restaurant chain donates food to different programs committed to hunger relief.

Here in Tulsa, it’s the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.

“Just to be able to give food itself in bulk and know it’s going to so many families is really heart whelming,” Watts said.

For nine years, the restaurant has donated more than 34,000 pounds of wholesome, surplus food.

Greg Raskin, communications manager at the food bank, said they are grateful for the time spent doing this.

“The food bank doesn’t receive any federal or state reimbursements so the food bank relies exclusively on private donations,” he said. “If it weren’t for places like LongHorn Steakhouse we wouldn’t be able to do the work that we do.”

He said he understands the effort it takes to help them.

“It would be a lot easier, perhaps, even more, cost effective for them to just throw the food out but they are actually taking the time, using up storage space and people power to store the food and freeze it and send it to the food bank where they know it will be going to people are who are really in need.”

In the summer, the food bank needs this food the most.

“We have kids who are home from school and who are no longer receiving those free and reduced price breakfasts and lunch,” Raskin said. “Our food truck that we send out into low-income neighborhoods, they’ll take the food that’s donated from great places like LongHorn and they’ll turn it immediately into meals they can send out on the food truck.”

Both hope to continue the partnership and encourage other restaurants to get involved.

Recently, LongHorn Steakhouse’s partner, the Darden Foundation made a $1.7 million donation to Feeding America affiliates nationwide. $491,000 of that donation was made in the name of LongHorn Restaurants.

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