Purpose is a term that is increasingly taking on more meaning for companies. As a company, our core purpose will always be to delight our guests. But as a company that serves nearly 400 million guests a year and has a significant presence throughout North America, we have both the opportunity and the desire to do more by making a difference in the communities we serve. When we talk about our broader purpose at Darden, it revolves around two areas — Sourcing Responsible Food and Helping Communities Thrive.
Sourcing Responsible Food
We know great food starts with quality ingredients that are sustainably sourced. That is why we created our Food Principles in 2016, to outline our commitment to our guests in the areas of sustainable sourcing, nutritional disclosure, food safety and animal welfare.
Building on our Food Principles, in fiscal 2019, Darden adopted an outcomes-focused Animal Welfare Policy to ensure that farm animals raised in our supply chain experience good welfare throughout their lives. This was the result of a year-long effort that included extensive benchmarking and input from a variety of stakeholders — including animal welfare experts, industry partners and suppliers.
Our approach, which is aligned with Darden’s business priorities and can be leveraged with our supply chain partners, will help to clearly prioritize areas of focus and promote improved animal welfare outcomes in line with the best available science and production practices.
Helping Communities Thrive
As a restaurant company, Darden is uniquely positioned to help in the fight against hunger. Across the country, one in eight households are food-insecure, living without consistent access to food. To help, we proudly partner with Feeding America, and in 2019, the Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation provided $2 million to support Feeding America and its member food banks across all 50 states. For every dollar donated, Feeding America can supply 10 meals to people in need — meaning our financial support helped donate 20 million meals. This year’s donation marked the ninth year of our partnership with Feeding America, during which time the Foundation and Darden have donated a total of $7.8 million.
These efforts go hand in hand with our Harvest program. Each day, across every one of our restaurants, we collect surplus, wholesome food that is not served to guests and, rather than discarding the food, we prepare it for donation to local nonprofit partners where the food is served to those in need. In fiscal 2019, our brands donated 7.5 million pounds of food, the equivalent of more than 6 million meals2. Since the program began in 2003, we have donated more than 115 million pounds which is equal to nearly 96 million meals.2
Preparing more than one million meals for our guests each day requires significant amounts of energy, water and food. Darden has a long history of conservation at our restaurants, and we also help our communities thrive by operating efficiently.
About 10 years ago, we set energy and water conservation goals for our restaurants to reduce usage of both by 15 percent each by 2015. At the time, it was an ambitious goal for a restaurant company to take on with such a diverse portfolio of restaurant buildings and kitchens to operate. When we sunset those goals in 2015, we had significantly exceeded both, with a remarkable 22 percent reduction in water use per restaurant.