‘Tis the Season for Giving: How Your Restaurant Can Give Back This Holiday Season

The National Restaurant Association found that 73% of restaurant owners donate to food relief charities throughout the year. If your restaurant isn’t yet part of that 73%, consider finding ways to give back this holiday season. We’ll take a look at some ways your restaurant can get into the spirit of the season, and suggest two simple ways that you can help those in need, without breaking the bank.

We spend much of this season giving thanks for the many things that we have, but often, we forget about those who don’t have. The restaurant industry meets one of our most basic needs – food; however, some people don’t have those needs fulfilled on a daily basis. Helping those in need allows your restaurant to give something back, and it doesn’t take an extensive project to get involved. With a little help from your customers, you can make a big difference. Take a look at the suggestions below, and then, start giving!

Food Drives

Food drives are an excellent way to help out local food relief organizations. Encourage customers to participate in the food drive by offering a discount on their meal if they donate a food item. This is an inexpensive, and easily-managed, charitable effort. To maximize donations, consider matching customer donations item for item.

Remember, you don’t have to go at it alone. Partner with your local food bank to find out what items are needed during the holidays, and ask for suggestions to jump-start your food drive. Let them be your guide to giving. To find your local food bank, visit the Feeding America website to search by location.

Portion of Sale Donations

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 was $49.41. That’s an average of $4.94 per person, or $19.76 for a family of four. Less than the average dinner for two at most restaurants. Every penny your restaurant can give, counts. Whether it’s 2% of sales, or 50%, the cost to feed one family a holiday meal is easily attained in an evening of dining. Pick a high volume evening and donate a portion of all sales to a charity of your choosing. Advertise this event to bring in more customers, increase volume, and in turn, increase the total donation amount.

You can also ask customers to participate without making them feel as though they should turn their wallets upside down. Add an option to customer checks that allows customers to directly donate set amounts as part of their check, or to make a small donation by simply rounding the check up to the nearest dollar. You would be surprised how quickly those pennies add up to dollars.

We’ve only looked at two ways of donating, specifically to food relief efforts, but there are hundreds of other charities that need help, especially during the holiday season. Find a charity, or multiple charities, you’d like to become involved with. Talk to your employees, ask your local chamber of commerce, or just do a Google search for local, non-profit organizations. However you choose to get involved, your contribution will make a difference for those who might otherwise not get to enjoy the joys of the holiday season.


“Fighting Hunger.” National Restaurant Association. http://www.restaurant.org/Industry-Impact/Giving-Back

“Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner Rises, Still Under $50.” American Farm Bureau Federation. http://www.fb.org/index.php?action=newsroom.newsclip&id=69978

Adapted Creative Commons image courtesy of Carly Sheil (Flickr)


Written by Teresa Glasgow, Technical Writing Specialist, Future POS, Inc.