Wait…how does it work again?
You buy a sandwich, we donate one to a local non-profit partner. If we sell 10,000 sandwiches in a month, we provide our nonprofit partners with the funds for 10,000 sandwiches. They can then purchase bulk sandwich product of their choosing. Our NPPs order product through an online account we’ve set up just for them. A few days later, Sysco delivers their order right to their doorstep.
How did you create your model?
We wanted to create a giving program that would 1) effectively make a difference 2) be realistic and achievable and 3) prevent waste. We discovered that the most effective way to give is to partner with the experts in giving – badass non-profit organizations who not only have the time, but the expertise to place all their efforts into making a difference. By providing our partners with in-kind food donations, they can reallocate funds they would otherwise be spending on food to put towards other programs that perpetuate their mission.
To realistically pull this off and prevent waste, we chose to empower our nonprofit partners with as much decision-making power as possible. We’ve set up Sysco accounts for our partners through which they can order the products they choose, in the amounts they choose, whenever they choose to order. They then receive their orders on their chosen day. This way, they can effectively plan meals and accommodate for product storage, which reduces waste. And all we do is provide the green – which makes it realistic and achievable on our end.
Do you donate the exact same sandwich as the one sold?
No. We let the non-profit partners decide which products they would like to order from our select list of products. This includes ingredients for sandwiches like deli meat, pulled pork, burgers, tuna fish, pot roast, tacos, egg salad, BLTs, and PB&J’s. Our partners order these ingredients from Sysco, the same supplier that our stores order from.
Why do you donate to non-profits? Why not me? My cousin? My friend Margaret?
By distributing all donations through our non-profit partners, we ensure that they are being used in the most efficient and effective way possible. Unlike our NPPs, we are not equipped with the facilities and knowledge to create a truly effective giving program. Rather we trust our partners to use our products in a way that will benefit the most people possible. If you, your cousin, or Margie are food insecure, our non-profit partners are there to help you in more ways than one.
Can I choose which sandwich I’d like to donate when I buy one?
No. The decision-making power is in the hands of our non-profit partners. They choose what products they’d like to order and what they’d like to make with those products. Forcing products on our partners creates more work for them and ignores their personal expertise and ability to cater well to their clients.
How do y’all afford it?
Good budgeting and strong relationships. Our partnerships with food manufacturers and distributors allow our non-profit partners to purchase bulk sandwich product at a great price. Sysco handles donation delivery. And our non-profit partners handle all the food prep through staff and volunteers. Each of our partnerships are exceptional in aiding us in word-of-mouth marketing to help drive sales (as are our other fantastic partners and customers!). That just leaves us to handle the whole “mind-blowing sandwich shop” thing.
Is this like TOMS?
Sure! But we’re doing more than a few things differently. Through food service, we have a unique opportunity to keep our buy-one-give-one model local and consistent. Instead of sending a donation overseas, you can know that the donation from your sandwich is being used to benefit someone in your own community. Plus, you have the ability to give this service again and again. Think about it: you can buy a pair of shoes a couple times a year, but you can buy a sandwich every day. (Sandwiches taste better anyway.)
We have learned a lot from observing the TOMS model. They were one of the first to make the buy-one-give-one model work and have adapted as needed as they’ve grown and faced the difficult issues that surround donating. One important lesson we’ve learned by observing the growth and changes in their company is that donating through the form of partnerships is far more effective than giving directly to clients. We prefer to put our trust in those who work with clients every day rather than assuming we know best.
Why do you keep the donations local? Why not send it to a developing country?
According to Feeding America.org a startling 1 in 8 Americans still face food insecurity every day. Food Insecurity, according to the USDA, is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Realizing this incredible need in our own backyard, coupled with our love for unique community cultures, prompted us to keep sandwich donations local.
Am I paying for it in the cost of my sandwich?
You’re paying forward, but your wallet isn’t taking the exhaust. The cost of our donation sandwiches is not rolled into the price you pay. But the money you put through our stores keeps business rolling and product flowing to our non-profits partners.
What products are available to your non-profit partners?
Every product that we offer can be utilized as a sandwich ingredient, usually in more ways than one. We offer meats like hamburger, pot roast, turkey, ham and bacon, wheat bread, buns, tortillas, fresh veggies, a variety of cheeses, proteins like peanut butter, tuna fish and eggs, condiments, spices, flour, oil. Our list is always improving as we continue to receive feedback and input from our partners
How do you choose which products to send the non-profits?
Variety, nutrition, and convenience are balanced with affordability. We regularly assess how our products are working for our partners and incorporate their feedback as to which products are most helpful for their organization.
What non-profits are you donating sandwiches to?
There’s a shload – four local partners for each store! Each of our partners is fighting hunger in their own way. Although we partner with many incredible programs targeted specifically at feeding the community’s food insecure populations, not all of our partners are food banks and soup kitchens. Our NPP’s work with a variety of clientele including: homeless individuals, seniors, victims of domestic violence and rape, low-income families, recovering addicts, people living with HIV/AIDS, children and youth, Native American populations and more. Learn about our specific local non-profit partners per location.per location.
How do you decide which partners to work with?
We look for inclusive organizations that are in good standing with their local community members. We figure y’all’re a pretty good judge of character after all. In addition they must be a certified 501(c)3 non-profit organization that incorporates feeding into their mission and programs. They must also have a sizable client base and adequate storage for bulk product donations, which helps eliminate waste and encourages safe food handling.