In a nutshell, how does the program work?
First, members of our Cause team research, seek out and build relationships with awesome non-profit partners that provide food service to our Even Stevens neighborhoods. Each location partners with four local non-profit partners.
Second, we give our partners access to an account with our food distributor, Sysco, where they can order fresh or shelf-stable sandwich ingredients at strategically negotiated wholesale prices.
Third, we open our restaurant, staff it with awesome experience creators, and sell amazing sandwiches to customers whose hunger reminds them how important access to food is!
Fourth, at the end of each month, the number of sandwiches sold by each Even Stevens location is multiplied by the average cost of ingredients for our non-profit sandwiches. That amount is divvied up between the restaurant’s non-profit partners based on need and each partner receives their food-order budget for that month (plus any roll-over amounts from past months).
Fifth, our non-profit orders whatever ingredients they want off of an approved list of 90+ items whenever they need them.
Sixth, Sysco delivers those ingredients right to their door!
Seventh, our non-profit partner’s staff and volunteers rally together to feed food insecure members of your community.
Eighth, we constantly review, communicate and follow up to make sure our non-profit partners are happy and that resources are being utilized in the best way possible.
How do y’all afford it?
Good budgeting and strong relationships. Through strategic negotiation and strengthening relationships, we ensure that our partners get quality ingredients at the best possible prices. Our food manufacturers and distributors contribute in their own way to our Eat to Give mission by offering our partners bulk sandwich product at incredible wholesale prices. Sysco delivers the product right to their door. And our non-profit partners handle all the food prep through staff and volunteers. Leveraging all of our industry, team member, and non-profit partner relationships we found that our partners are able to build a quality sandwich for an average cost of only $0.54 when equivalent sandwiches or ingredients purchased at retail would cost them a lot more in both money and inconvenience. This $0.54 is a blended average of the cost of multiple types of sandwiches that we donate products for (including ham, turkey, PB&J, tuna, pork, BLT, pulled pork, pot roast, breakfast burrito, egg salad and more!)
The contributions made from each sandwich start to add up and go a long way! Here’s an example of what one month’s worth of donations at a single mature location might look like for our partners:
Sandwiches donated for one store’s average month: 7,500 sandwiches
Non-profit A serves 350 people per day: 45% of total = 3,375 sandwiches x $.54 = $1,822.50
Non-profit B serves 150 people per day: 30% of total = 2,250 sandwiches x $.54 = $1,215.00
Non-profit C serves 30 people per day: 10% of total = 750 sandwiches x $.54 = $405.00
Non-profit D serves 75 people per day: 15% of total = 1,125 sandwiches x $.54 = $607.50
Grand Total = $4,050 donated to your community’s hungry
As a bonus, the relationship also raises awareness about food insecurity and the wonderful work our non-profit partners do. And that is where the reward of partnering our commercial restaurant business with non-profit organizations happens! By connecting and facilitating cooperation by consumers, manufacturers, suppliers, our team, and non-profits – we create a profitable restaurant with a sustainable companion cause program. Thank you for helping us make it happen!
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.
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.