Thanksgiving is perhaps the holiday most associated with food and family get-togethers. But many American families cannot afford even the most meager of meals, much less the standard holiday turkey and dressing spread.
Local 7‑Eleven stores invited residents to help put food on the tables of their less fortunate neighbors through its “pay-it-forward” with pizza campaign. During the three days leading up to Thanksgiving customers had the opportunity to donate a pizza, or several, for just $5.55 each. The campaign ran from Monday, Nov. 24, through Wednesday, Nov. 26, at 300 7‑Eleven stores in a five-state area that sell pizza and other hot foods.
And if pizza doesn’t seem as traditional as, say turkey, for Thanksgiving, the American Pizza Community reports that Thanksgiving eve is the second biggest day for pizza sales, behind only Super Bowl Sunday. It’s a fast and easy choice on a day when many people are gearing up for the next day’s cooking marathon.
Participating stores are located in the metropolitan areas of Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y., Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland and Charleston, W.Va.
Customers can purchase large pepperoni, cheese or deluxe pizzas that will be delivered to nine food banks. Area food banks that will receive the pizzas are Food Bank WNY in Buffalo, Foodlink in Rochester, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in Duquesne, Penn.; the Greater Cleveland Food Bank in Cleveland, Gleaners in Pontiac, Mich.; Forgotten Harvest in Oak Park, Mich.; Old Man Rivers in Parkersburg, The Salvation Army in Clarksburg and Mountain Mission in Charleston, W. Va.
“Thanksgiving is a holiday when many of us stop and give thanks for what we have,” said Darrin Stafford, 7‑Eleven zone leader for 600 stores in Michigan, Ohio, Western New York, greater Pittsburgh, parts of West Virginia and one store in Kentucky. “For too many families in the region, food is scarce, an especially sad fact at a time of year when many holiday celebrations revolve around food. The pay-it-forward pizza program offers a quick and easy way for people to treat a needy family to a hot meal their children will love.”
While 7‑Eleven’s pizzas are typically baked at the store and served hot to customers, the donated pizzas are kept frozen until recipient families choose to prepare them. The pizzas were distributed to the needy through local nonprofit organizations.
Last August, these same 300 7‑Eleven stores invited customers to give away pizzas to the needy. To say it was a success is an understatement. In one day, customers contributed more than 11,600 pizzas, with the top-selling 7‑Eleven store, located on 150th Street in Cleveland, selling 165 pizzas to be donated to the local food bank.
“Pizza is a favorite food for many youngsters and not commonly available at food banks,” Stafford said. “These donated pizzas will provide a different and unexpected treat for local families.”
A special display complete with pizza boxes and a colorful sign communicates the pay-it-forward campaign in the participating 7‑Eleven stores that offer hot foods like fresh-baked pizza, chicken tenders and wings. Participants can sign a pizza donation card that will be displayed in the store.
Shoppers at 7‑Eleven stores that do not sell hot pizza can still help. The retailer is holding a national “banana benevolence” campaign that ends Dec. 2. To participate, customers can purchase two Del Monte bananas for $1 that will be donated to Feeding America and distributed through its member food banks to local families in need.
Also, 7‑Eleven customers can make a financial donation to fight hunger at collection canisters located by the stores’ cash registers.