Noodles CEO Dave Boennighausen: Help Us Tackle Childhood Hunger
It’s something most of us take for granted.
The question is usually “what we are going to feed our kids for dinner?” not “how we are going to feed our kids?”
The numbers are staggering. Roughly one in six households in the United States do not have consistent access to food. The science behind the importance of a nutritious diet is unequivocal: without a healthy meal, our children are less likely to do well in school, less likely to graduate, and less likely to reach their potential. Childhood hunger is one of the pressing issues that we need to address as a society, and at Noodles & Company we know it’s important that we do our part.
Since our founding over 21 years ago, our mission has been to always nourish and inspire every team member, guest and community we serve. There are many ways we try to fulfill that mission. Our teams volunteer for local organizations, support our foundation that assists team members in need, and promote benefit nights for non-profit organizations in our communities.
A cornerstone of this mission is our partnership with No Kid Hungry, who aims to end childhood hunger across the United States. The partnership provides a unique opportunity for Noodles & Company to mobilize our 10,000 team members and hundreds of thousands of guests to unite behind one common goal — to end childhood hunger. Hunger can strike anyone and it’s usually anonymous. It could strike my son’s playmate at school, or the families living at the apartment complex across the street — anyone can become food insecure. Our partnership with No Kid Hungry puts the spotlight on an issue that needs immediate attention.
A common phrase in the restaurant industry is that “the guest experience will never surpass the team member experience.” We have always found that engaged team members get better results. We believe it’s often not pay that leads to team member engagement but the opportunity to develop and grow as an individual. That’s one reason our partnership with No Kid Hungry has been so successful, because our team members know that they are directly helping people’s lives in a profound way.
From a guest perspective, I’ve been blown away at the level of engagement and excitement that we see in our restaurants when we support No Kid Hungry. The energy in the restaurants goes up a notch, and we see the results in our sales and on social media. As a concept that’s particularly popular with families, it also provides an opportunity for our guests and their children to understand that not everyone may be as fortunate as they are. Last year our guests and team members raised $500,000 for No Kid Hungry, providing 5 million meals for children in need. Many of those meals were provided by our youngest guests emptying their piggy bank or donating their allowance to the cause.
Like many people my age, when I was growing up, a job in the foodservice industry was something you’d want to avoid. The connotation was that you only worked at a restaurant if you had no other alternative. Fortunately that mindset has changed, and Noodles is proud of our team members who are committed to making a difference in their communities.
One of my favorite quotes is from Peter Drucker, who said, “The purpose of an organization is to enable ordinary human beings to do extraordinary things.” During the month of September, Noodles & Company and our guests, through our partnership with No Kid Hungry, will work towards doing something truly extraordinary — ending childhood hunger in the United States. We hope you’ll join us.
– Dave Boennighausen, Chief Executive Officer of Noodles & Company