With more than 840 restaurants nationwide, Olive Garden has donated over 38 million pounds of food through the Olive Garden Harvest Program.
MSU Campus Kitchen Manager Karen Anderson says, "It's predicted that about 13 to 15 percent in Mankato are facing food insecurity and that's just saying that they don't know where their next meal is coming from."
The Campus Kitchen project is a national program started by college students with over 50 campuses that engage in taking food that's recovered from restaurants make it into meals and give to people in need.
Anderson says the partnership with the Olive Garden Harvest program has allowed them to serve the community and offer quality meals.
Anderson says, "We're very grateful. I can't begin to tell you how great it is to have a community partner that you can count on and rely on for being there for us."
Since opening as a restaurant in Mankato in 2006, Olive Garden has donated 52,200 pounds of food.
Olive Garden General Manager Trista West says, "We're part of this community just like any other restaurant and any other person and the people in this community need our help and this is something that we're able to do."
Adding that all donations are not leftovers.
West says, "Like our Alfredo and our lasagna and soups and salsa are prepared every day and whatever we don't use that day we send to campus kitchen so it's not leftover food. Its fresh unused food."
Feedback from the community on receiving olive garden for meals has been nothing been grateful.
Anderson says, "The students in particular, one of the agencies we serve is the campus cupboard, and I hear often times from the students how it's been a life savior."
"We've actually received a couple of letters of thank you's from people saying things were tight and we never had any idea that we were going to receive olive garden food when we went there and it was just the most amazing blessing."
Additionally, the company's charitable arm, The Darden Foundation, recently donated 1.7 million dollars to Feeding America including 841,000 dollars on behalf of Olive Garden.
---KEYC News 12