Franklin Food Pantry Receives Grant from Darden Restaurants

Funds Earmarked to Support the Healthy Futures Initiative – Grant is one of more than 850 awarded through Darden’s 2nd annual Restaurant Community Grants program

The Franklin Food Pantry was selected as a recipient of a $1,000 grant as part of the Restaurant Community Grants program from the Darden Foundation, the charitable arm of Darden Restaurants Inc. The grants program, now in its second year, empowers each restaurant in the Darden family of brands to help award a $1,000 grant to support local community programs.

Chosen by the LongHorn Steakhouse restaurant in Franklin, The Franklin Food Pantry has earmarked Darden’s funds to supply fresh fruit to its clients through its recently launched Healthy Futures Shelf. 

Darden Foundation Grant
In Photo from left to right:  Linda Sottile, Director of Operations at the
Franklin Food Pantry; Jodi Morgan, Kitchen Manager, Jessica Studley,
Culinary Professional, and Jason McHenry, Managing Partner from LongHorn
Steakhouse in Franklin;  Tony Kucich, Volunteer at the Franklin Food Pantry,
and Jon Morse of The Big Apple in Wrentham.

“With this grant from Darden and support from The Big Apple in Wrentham, The Pantry can supply approximately 240 apples each week for 4 months, a welcome item on the shelves at The Pantry this Fall”, stated Linda Sottile, Director of Operations for The Pantry.

Healthy Futures Franklin is part of Mass in Motion (MIM), a statewide movement that promotes opportunities for healthy eating and active living. MIM programs work with communities, schools, childcare centers, and businesses to create changes that make it easy for people to eat better and move more. “Together, we can create healthier communities, and a healthier Commonwealth. We have received funding through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to continue the work in Franklin, and the Franklin Food Pantry has been an instrumental partner in these efforts”, said Marissa Garofano, Director of Community Wellness for the Hockomock Area YMCA.

According to Erin Lynch, Director of Development at the Franklin Food Pantry, “Providing nutritional advocacy and access to fresh fruits and produce is a priority for The Pantry in its role as a Healthy Futures partner. The high cost of perishable items is a barrier to wholesome nutrition for many families. We try to supply these items to our clients whenever affordable and available. We are very grateful to Darden Restaurants for their contribution to this community effort.” The Pantry has also received support from MetroWest Health Foundation, Stop & Shop, and the community to enhance the variety and quality of healthy items and nutrition resources that they can offer.

Darden’s Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille and Eddie V’s brands participated in the grant program. Many restaurants and brands worked together to award one nonprofit organization with a larger grant and make a greater impact in their community. The restaurants will award more than $1.9 million to more than 850 exceptional nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and Canada. Nonprofits receiving grants support one of Darden’s three key focus areas: access to postsecondary education, preservation of natural resources and hunger. 

“Our employees are incredibly passionate about the communities where they live, and our restaurant teams are in a position to understand and help address the needs of their communities,” said Drew Madsen, Darden Restaurants’ president and chief operating officer. “We’re all proud to build on that passion through the grants program and bring real, local citizenship to life by enabling each restaurant to make a difference in their backyard.” 

For more information about the Darden Foundation, please visit For additional information on The Franklin Food Pantry, please visit For more information on Mass in Motion, please contact Marissa Garofano at marissag@HOCKYMCA.ORG or visit for information on the Healthy Futures Initiative. 

About Darden Restaurants
Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), the world’s largest full-service restaurant company, owns and operates more than 2,000 restaurants that generate over $8.0 billion in annual sales. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing more than 190,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people. In 2013, Darden was named to the FORTUNE “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for the third year in a row and is the only full-service restaurant company to ever appear on the list. Our restaurant brands – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s and Yard House – reflect the rich diversity of those who dine with us. Our brands are built on deep insights into what our guests want. For more information, please visit,

The Darden Foundation
The Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation is the charitable arm of Darden Restaurants, Inc. The Foundation’s mission is to maintain a spirit of volunteerism and philanthropy as defining characteristics of Darden Restaurants. Since 1995, the Darden Foundation has awarded more than $60 million in grants, with $7.2 million given in fiscal year 2012. The Darden Foundation carries out its mission by focusing philanthropic efforts and resources on the following program areas: Access to Postsecondary Education, Preservation of Natural Resources and Good Neighbor Grants. For more information, please visit,

About The Franklin Food Pantry
Established in 1987, the mission of the Franklin Food Pantry is to provide immediate hunger relief and healthy sustainable solutions, by empowering the community through resources, education and collaboration. It is part of the Greater Boston Food Bank network and depends entirely on support and donations from volunteers, corporate partners and the community at large. The Franklin Food Pantry is located at 43 West Central Street, Route 140 and can accept donations during business hours, Tuesday – Friday, 9am -1pm. Non-perishables may also be dropped off after hours in the bin by the front door, or monetary donations may be mailed to Franklin Food Pantry, PO Box 116, Franklin MA 02038. For more information, visit us at, like our page on Facebook, or call us at 508-528-3115. The Franklin Food Pantry is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization FEIN # 04-3272663.