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Local Restaurant Chain Fights Childhood Hunger

Local Restaurant Chain Fights Childhood Hunger

All six locations of Gecko's Grill & Pub’s and their little brother, Smack’s Burgers & Shakes just wrapped up their participation in Share Our Strength's month-long Dine Out for No Kid Hungry campaign.

Every year since the first year of the No Kid Hungry campaign in 2008, the SOS organization asks restaurants all over the country to participate in raising awareness  to end childhood hunger in America and encourages  their patrons to participate in a month long promotion in September, Dine Out for No Kid Hungry.  The Gecko’s Hospitality Group’s family of restaurants built upon their program of last year through their “Round Up for No Kid Hungry” program.  Guests are asked to support the Dine Out for NKH philanthropy by simply rounding up their bill to the next dollar. The difference in the bill goes directly towards helping children who struggle with hunger in America, which is a surprising one in every five school-age children.

This was the Gecko’s group’s second year participating in the campaign, but Anne Rollings felt this year's impact was much more significant since the previous year was a "building year" for the campaign locally.

"We decided to do a round up program in all six of our restaurants and our sibling, Smack’s and it’s been very successful,” says Rollings. “Through the commitment of our Owners, our rock star teams, and the participation of our wonderful and generous guests, we were able to raise over $3000 for NKH.”

“Employees wore their orange - that’s the color for SOS - proudly for the month of September. We even had a server arrive at work in an orange cape, so we dubbed him the ‘Orange Caped Crusader’ and NKH tweeted that team’s image all over their network. We had fun while doing good.”

Patrons were also encouraged to post their names up on the NKH wall after they donated to show their support and participation in helping end child hunger in America.

As a family-oriented business and local staple in the Sarasota casual dining restaurant community, Gecko’s Hospitality Group is no stranger to being involved in childhood causes. In fact, the group has strong ties to dozens of Sarasota and Manatee County schools and makes every effort to support them in their Super Student initiatives. The Gecko’s family of restaurants incentivizes the program, which rewards elementary school children who demonstrate citizenship, earn good grades, or simply show kindness to their fellow students, with a free Kid’s Meal at Gecko’s or S’macks.

“We have a long relationship as Business Partners with the schools, and it is such a privilege to focus our philanthropic efforts towards the benefit of our local schools,” says Rollings. “Talking to the Administrators and PTOs we’ve found out that the children who are most likely to succeed are the ones who develop good reading skills and who are able to focus and concentrate because they aren’t falling asleep in class from being hungry.”

“We thought the Dine Out for No Kid Hungry campaign was a great fit for our restaurants,” said Rollings.

No Kid Hungry is just one way the SOS organization is working to helping families and children get the food they need. Their sustainability and stability initiatives are noteworthy as well.

“They are involved in some amazing programs,” says Rollings. “From working with low income families to teach them how to budget for food expenses, connecting them with healthy food banks and even teaching kids how to cook.”

So when you’re thinking about where to grab a bite on your next casual dining out date, think about the local restaurants that are looking out for our kiddos, like Gecko’s and Smack’s. Stop into one of Gecko’s six locations for drinks, apps, or the whole meal is a great idea. And don’t forget to check out Smack’s delicious made-in-house custard menu for dessert!

Do you want to help end childhood hunger in our community not just in September, but any time of the year? Our local food banks, like All Faiths Food Bank, are always accepting donations. Visit their Facebook page for more information.

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