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Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry has announced that restaurants across the country and their customers raised nearly $2.4 million last year in the fight against childhood hunger. National program director Sheila Bennett directly relates the program’s success to the passion of its restaurant participants and patrons around the cause, and its ability to deliver strong business results for participating restaurants.

“We had nearly 60 different restaurant brands and more than 300 independents working together to combat hunger, an issue that impacts more than 16 million American children,” Bennett said. “These restaurants raised nearly $1 million more in 2011 than the year before, and I truly believe that’s because the restaurants are seeing real business results. Restaurants reported bounceback coupon redemption rates of up to 40 percent, and sales increases as high as 11 percent.”

Restaurants that participated in the program included:

Atlanta-based Ted’s Montana Grill reported an 8.4 percent increase in total weekly sales compared to the same week of 2010, a 5 percent redemption rate on bounceback coupons used during the week-long promotion, and tripled the funds raised for Dine Out For No Kid Hungry. CEO George McKerrow also committed the company to raise $150,000 to support Share Our Strengths’ No Kid Hungry campaign in 2012 through four promotions, including September’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry.

John Miller, CEO of Denny’s encouraged the participation of 745 (the largest group of participating units) of the chain’s restaurants behind Dine Out For No Kid Hungry last year. Each participating location offered guests who donated $3 or more, five $1 coupons to use on their next purchase of $5 or more. To support the effort, Miller personally created and delivered an audio message to employees thanking them for their time, commitment and inspiration. As a result, Denny’s raised more than $273,665.

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers tapped into its formidable community of patrons. Every patron making a $1 donation in-store during the promotion received a coupon for a buy-one/get-one combo meal ($6 value) on a return visit within two weeks of their Dine Out For No Kid Hungry promotion. Employees in the 77 participating units fully engaged in the fight against child hunger by painting store windows, creating in-store signage and social-media outreach. Raising Cane’s and its patron base delivered more than $58,000 to the No Kid Hungry campaign, which nearly quadrupled the company’s 2010 contribution.

Independent restaurateurs and local-leverage operators, too, have discovered that Dine Out For No Kid Hungry can be an exceptional tool for employee, community and patron engagement. Food Network personality, Chopped! judge and restaurateur Marc Murphy signed on, not only for his restaurants, but as the Dine Out For No Kid Hungry national spokesperson. He operates four restaurants in New York: Landmarc in Tribeca and at the Time Warner Center, and two Ditch Plains locations on the Upper West Side and in the West Village. Murphy donated the full price of every order of cotton candy ($2 each) from Landmarc, and 50 percent of all sales of s’ mores in both Ditch Plains locations. Murphy was among the first restaurants to register for the 2012 Dine Out For No Kid Hungry.

Baker’s Restaurant in Elkton, Md., is typically closed on Tuesdays, but in 2011, the “local legend” raised $4,000 by opening the restaurant on Tuesday during Dine Out For No Kid Hungry week and donating 100 percent of all proceeds plus tips. In Margate, N.J., Steve and Cookies by the Bay raised $4,000 by donating 3 percent of its week’s sales and giving co-branded market bags to customers who made an extra donation of $20 or more. 

Last year’s participants also included Corner Bakery Cafe, Joe’s Crab Shack, Bar Louie, P.F. Chang’s, O’Charley’sMcAlister’s Deli, Arby's and many more all across the country.

This year, Dine Out For No Kid Hungry week is slated for Sept. 16-22. To join the movement, operators can visit DineOutForNoKidHungry.org where they’ll find an Online Resource Center with tools and best practices for creating a successful campaign.

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