More than 18 months into the pandemic’s deep and ever-changing impact on the U.S. restaurant industry, the Land O’Lakes Foodservice division has conducted an array of initiatives in collaboration with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), resulting in more than $100,000 in relief funds for restaurant operators and employees.
NRAEF is the non-profit arm of the National Restaurant Association, dedicated to attracting, empowering and advancing today’s and tomorrow’s restaurant employees.
Most recently, the Land O’Lakes Foodservice division created a Tip Jar program aimed at driving traffic to reopened restaurants and supporting restaurant employees. Tip Jar encouraged restaurants nationwide to register to participate in the June program in which Land O’Lakes would match customers’ tips up to $25,000 in the form of a donation to help NRAEF provide training for current and future restaurant employees.
During the campaign, Land O’Lakes provided participating operators marketing materials and other promotional tools. More than 5,000 restaurant patrons gave $137,000 in tips, far exceeding Land O’Lakes’ $25,000 matching contribution to NRAEF.
“We’re thrilled that restaurant-goers filled the Land O’Lakes Tip Jar and showed their appreciation for restaurant workers everywhere,” says Rob Gifford, President, NRAEF. “We are so grateful for Land O’ Lakes’ support as we continue our work to help restaurant workers from all backgrounds receive the training they need to put their jobs and careers back on track.”
Tip Jar continues Land O’Lakes Foodservice’s ongoing collaborations with NRAEF since the pandemic took hold. From March 2020 through fall 2020, Land O’Lakes contributed $25,000 to NRAEF’s Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to support owners and employees who lost their jobs.
Then, as restaurants reopened fall through winter, Land O’Lakes contributed $50,000 to NRAEF’s “Change is on the Menu” campaign, aimed at helping employees improve their skills and training so they can re-enter a changed work force, find jobs and rebuild their futures.
“A core co-op principle is ‘concern for the community,’ and as a farmer-owned cooperative we know one of our communities – the restaurant industry – has faced fresh hurdles nearly every stage of this pandemic,” says Catherine Fox, VP Land O’Lakes Dairy Foods. “We are proud to partner with NRAEF on Tip Jar and other initiatives, as they provide us the opportunity to support the industry in a direct and immediate way. We look forward to a continued collaboration in future efforts to help the industry navigate the changes to come.”