ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A National restaurant chain is doing their part by giving back to the community. Olive Garden implemented the Olive Garden Harvest Program in 2003, donating their unused food to charity.
"That's where we collect wholesome unused food and we donate it on a weekly basis to the local Salvation Army for their soup kitchen," said Julie Bondurant, Olive Garden General Manager.
Each day workers box up the food and store it. "We prepare it in a to go container, we label it, the date that it was harvested and we rapidly chill it," said Bondurant. "We put it in the freezer and we cool it as quickly as possible."
On Tuesdays, Salvation Army workers come and pick up the meals.
"Once we pick it up here we take it back to our location on Second Avenue and then we then place it in our kitchen for our kitchen staff and it's used to feed during our Daily Feeding program," said Crystal Kegler, Salvation Army Family Store Manager.
Since its opening, Olive Garden in Albany has donated thousands of pounds of food. "This restaurant since we've opened three years ago has donated about 3,500 pounds of food to the Salvation Army here," said Bondurant.
Bondurant says Olive Garden has a passion for strengthening their communities. "We like to partner with a lot of local businesses to see what we can do to help out," said Bondurant. "Because the stronger the community is in turn the stronger we are."
The Salvation Army appreciates their service. "It has been a great partnership," said Kegler. "We come out once a week and we pick it up and we take it back to our store on Second Avenue and it's just been wonderful."
Since 2003, Olive Garden has donated 33 million pounds of food.