Denny’s Corp. is “hangry.”
According to the Spartanburg-based family-dining chain’s President and CEO John Miller, that means the company is angry about childhood hunger in America.
For a seventh consecutive year, Denny’s will help raise funding for the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.
Denny’s employees nationwide have generated more than $4.3 million for the organization since 2011.
As part of its buildup to this year’s campaign, which officially starts in early October, Denny’s hosted No Kid Hungry’s interactive national bus tour Thursday at its downtown Spartanburg headquarters.
“In this great country, no kid should go hungry,” Miller said. “We want to make sure that kids get fed; they get summer food programs; they get food before they start school; they have an opportunity to eat so they can learn. If they learn, they can achieve. And that’s what this is all about: kicking off for 2017.”
In 2016, Denny’s gave the organization a check for $1 million.
Paul Spencer, director of social responsibility for Denny’s and the campaign chair, said the company hopes to surpass that amount this year.
“We love to feed people,” Spencer said. “It’s what we do for a living. Who better than us to do this?”
He said Spartanburg County School District 7 received a grant from No Kid Hungry that it used to purchase a meal cart that serves breakfast to Spartanburg High School students.
Spencer said Denny’s 2017 campaign will start Oct. 9, coinciding with the company’s annual franchisee convention and trade show, which will be held this year in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Mallory Moler, manager of corporate partnerships for No Kid Hungry said one out of every six kids in the U.S. doesn’t know where their next meal is going to come from.
“Denny’s has been a true leader in the restaurant industry – a shining star,” Moler said. “We are so excited about our partnership with them.”
The Dine Out for No Kid Hungry bus looks like a traditional yellow school bus. It features signage depicting the campaign’s logo, social media stuff, and other promotional information.
The bus tour kicked of in New York on Monday and will end in Los Angeles on Sept. 13. The tour includes stops in Washington D.C., Atlanta, Nashville, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, and San Diego.
According to No Kid Hungry, every $1 donated to the campaign provides 10 meals for one child through its various programs and partnerships.
In 2016, the nationwide fundraiser generated more than 900 million meals for kids.
Moler said in addition to providing funding for meals and programs, the organization examines the root causes of childhood hunger.
She said studies have shown that children who eat breakfast perform better in school.
With its education partners, No Kid Hungry is working to reduce the stigma placed on kids and teenagers who are in need of meal assistance, Moler said. That includes moving food programs from the cafeteria into the classroom so students don’t feel ostracized.
“We like the idea of solving the root cause,” Spencer said. “The goal is to end childhood hunger.”
Spencer added, “It has been a journey for us. When we first started, there were people who questioned why we were doing this. But by our fourth or fifth year, we had pretty much gotten everybody on board.”
For more information, visit nokidhungry.org.