Category Archives: Giving Back

Central Gives Back

Central Restaurant Products is a proud supporter of the Make-a-Wish foundation, a not-for-profit organization with the “vision to grant the wish of every child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition” (see their “About Us” section). Every year, they recruit the help of thousands and thousands of volunteers and donors to make this vision a reality for children and families who have been dealt an unfair hand.

Central is proud to support this cause. It is our personal goal to make a wish come true for one child and their family every quarter. We like to give more than money, too. At Central, every employee receives a paid Volunteer Day every year to use to give back to their community.

For the past several years, many employees have chosen to use their Volunteer Day to participate in WZPL’s annual Make-a-Wish Request-a-thon, hosted live on air by the popular Smiley Morning Show. Through a thirty-six hour period, listeners can call in to request a song to play, and make a donation that goes directly to granting a wish. This fundraiser event is only achievable through the help of volunteers, and it is because of their determination and passion to serve that this year, the Request-a-thon was able to raise $706,145, enough to make 88 wishes come true.

Central crew at Make-a-Wish Request-a-thon

Central employees Kate, Shannon, Galen, and Armando volunteer their time to make wishes come true.


holiday season

Customer Spotlight: Restaurants Giving Back During the Holiday Season

Holiday Season

The holidays are a busy time for the restaurant industry but also very rewarding when able to give back to their local community. Learn about two of our customers and how they are giving back over the holidays and what they have going on during the 2015 holiday season.

Anna's Pizza and PastaAnna’s Pizza and Pasta

The people of Winnebago, Illinois love Anna’s Pasta and Pizza, who just celebrated their 20th year in business! This locally owned pizza hot spot has appeared in Pizza Today Magazine and Pizza Magazine Quarterly. They were also named 2009 Village of Winnebago Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year.

Owner Brian Weavel and Anna’s Pizza and Pasta are very active in their community with 2016 being a dream for him, one he says he does not want to wake up from!

He was Pizza Today Magazine’s first and only Guest Editor and Chief for their September 2014 issue and a judge for the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.

Brian Weavel

Brian Weavel

Weavel also participated in a fundraiser for the Rockford Rescue Mission and made pizza for 24 hours straight and raised $2,600!

Recently, Anna’s Pizza and Pasta did a fundraiser for a Rockford area cancer patient with Green Bay Packers’ Ahman Green and his foundation.

These efforts are just few of many that Weavel and Anna’s Pizza and Pasta have done, and could have been the inspiration for charitable holiday spirit in a group of young men that work at the restaurant.

This holiday season, the group of co-workers used their singing voices to give back to their community.

Calling themselves the “Anna’s Carolers,” the group went caroling house to house singing holiday songs to raise money for Toys for Tots.

Weavel told WREX news “Anna’s Carolers” took on this initiative all on their own and he was very proud of them.

You can follow along with Anna’s Pizza and Pasta, as well as “Anna’s Carolers,” on their Facebook page!

Broad Ripple BrewpubBroad Ripple Brewpub

Indy’s first Brewpub and longest operating microbrewery, Broad Ripple Brewpub, opened in 1990 and prides themselves on always serving the perfect pint and offering an eclectic menu in a family friendly atmosphere.

Each year for the holiday season, the Broad Ripple Brewpub collects money for the United Christmas Service, who provide warm clothing and presents for families that are in need.

“Customers buy a cutout picture of a Christmas light bulb for whatever they can spare, then they write their names on it and stick it to the mirror behind the bar,” said General Manager Billy Hannan.

“This year we got a head start by collecting a dollar for every pint of our ESB that was sold on the night of our 25th anniversary party, held on November 14, and this money will be added to whatever we collect beyond that.”

Also this holiday season, local classically trained musicians play holiday music at the Brewpub, many of whom are members of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to the great charitable efforts, guests can expect a great selection of seasonal beers.

Broad Ripple BrewpubMany customers look forward to the Wee Alec Heavy, a Scottish Ale. This year, Hannan said they are also featuring a Gruit, called “How the Gruit Stole Christmas” which is an alcoholic beverage that Europeans drank before discovering hops as an ingredient.

“Ours is made with orange peels and pine cones,” Hannan said. “It’s light and easy to drink, with a flavor similar to traditional hopped beers, but with a unique flavor all its own.”

They hope this new beer becomes a popular tradition for future Christmases to come.

Find more information about the Broad Ripple Brewpub on their Facebook page!

Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon

Central at WZPL’s 19th Annual Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon

Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon

Central volunteered to answer phones from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Thursday December 3 for Indiana radio station WZPL’s 19th annual Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana Request-A-Thon.

The station’s Smiley Morning Show stays on-air for 36 hours (starting at 6 a.m. through 6 p.m. on Friday December 4) taking donations to help children fighting life-threatening medical conditions. In return, you get to request a song! (Or even as witnessed this year, pay to turn a song off!)

Getting Involved

Make-A-Wish Request-A-ThonEven though this is a local event, anyone can listen and participate.

Watch the live stream or listen online through 6 p.m. on Friday December 4. 

The Request-A-Thon is one of this local Make-A-Wish chapter’s largest fundraising events, raising $580,000 and granting 72 wishes in 2014. This year they hope to exceed that goal!

If you would like to donate during the Request-A-Thon, you can click here or call the show at 317-228-1099.

This year you can also text in donations by texting the word wishes to 80088 and $5 will be added to your phone bill and donated for a wish.

Be sure to follow along on social media through #ZPLWish.

Central Employees

Big thanks to our following employees for attending the event: Autumn Faust, Sabrina Tate, Galen Pops, Mike Ferrando, Suzanne Maddux, James Soares, Greg Otterman and Shannon Nestor.

Check out images below of our time at the radio station, which included Autumn and Greg going on-air with Smiley to announce our donation to Make-A-Wish.

Giving Back: Central supports the Ronald McDonald House Charities

The holiday season is a great time for giving. Whether its when you are sit down with family or friends to enjoy a holiday meal or when you open your restaurant for other families to celebrate.

Still, there are many families that have other heavy matters on their minds this holiday season. They are spending the holiday far from home to seek treatment for their sick children. Luckily, across our nation and 61 other countries, the Ronald McDonald House Charities provide a home-away-from-home for parents, patients and their siblings. While the charity shares a name with the fast-food giant, it is a separate entity that relies on funding from many sources.

 Our Experience with the Ronald McDonald House

The Content Specialist team here at Central Restaurant (who also maintain this blog) recently took the opportunity to serve dinner at our local Indianapolis Ronald McDonald House. The house gives respite for up to 58 families each day, and relies on volunteers to donate and prepare hot lunches and dinners for the guests each day.

Julia and Tracey get ready to prepare the evening meal.

Julia and Tracey get ready to prepare the evening meal.

As our team of 6 prepared the meal, weary families began to congregate in the dining room sharing stories of treatment, recovery and the strength of their ill children. They were grateful for the meal and one less thing their occupied minds had to deal with.

“Feeding 50 people was a daunting task at first because we’ve never cooked for that many people at once, but it was so rewarding to see the families line up to eat and thank us and say how good everything was,” said Emily Rollins.

But the highlight of the night was when a child named Raymond, who was in town for medical tests at nearby Riley Children’s Hospital, began challenging us to races around the dining room. It was heartwarming to see this young child forget his illness for a minute and just be a kid once again. Even more rewarding was the look of joy on his parent’s face, who wrote about the experience on their Facebook page Rise up for Raymond.


Our Content Specialist team joined by 4-year-old bottle-of-energy Raymond

Our co-worker Carlisha summed the experience up best:

“Raymond’s face when he was racing everyone was priceless. That four-year old really touched our hearts with his energetic spirit and positive attitude. It reminded me what Christmas is really about and how much you can impact someone’s life by giving some of your time.”

Your Time to Pay It Forward

Whether it be donating your time, excess food, money or all of the above, there is never a bad time of the year to give of yourself and your staff. “It was really rewarding to be able to do this for these families and a great teambuilding exercise for our group too,” said Tracey Rector Allen. And that’s why our team challenges you – the food service industry – to take your community support one step further in 2015. The feelings are much more rewarding than the effort.

Overcoming Roadblocks to Food Donations

Last week, we talked about steps that can help your kitchen achieve zero food waste through planning and optimization. But what about the 96 billion pounds of food waste that we create but do not serve? Today, we will look at what your kitchen can do with that prepared food waste that remains at the end of your day.

Roadblocks to Donation

You may have already thought about donating your surplus or unused prepared food to a local food bank or other charity – but thought it was too difficult, risky or cost effective. With the help of some non-profit organizations, whose intent is to simplify the process, and a law specifically written to protect your good intentions, there are now fewer reasons not to turn your excess waste into a positive for your community.

Donation Process Infographic from FDC

Steps to donation outlined on

Creating a program is not as difficult and time-consuming as one would think. There are organizations that exist to help. One is the Food Donation Connection based out of Knoxville, TN. Through their website,, potential donors can find local organizations in need and helps facilitate the ongoing communication to ensure all benefit from the exchange. They can also help coordinate the tracking and transportation through pick-up agencies. The FDC receives no federal money, but funds itself through the food donors who pay a small percentage of the tax benefits received through the donation process.

According to 2013 numbers, the FDC helped 14,592 foodservice locations donate 36 million pounds of food to 7908 hunger relief organizations. Many large chains are involved in the program, including Yum! Brands and Darden Restaurants. Some recipients of this donated food include Feeding America, City Harvest (NYC), The Salvation Army and Boy & Girls Clubs

Legal Liabilities

Another common roadblock is the potential liability of donating food. Where does the food safety liability lie once it leaves a restaurant’s care? In 1996, the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was signed into law to clear this legal point and encourage more donations. The bill protects the donor and the recipient agencies in most cases outside of gross negligence or intentional misconduct. With the national law enacted, all donors in the U.S. have the same language that protects them from civil or criminal liability.

Covered food includes products that “meet all quality and labeling standards imposed by federal, state and local laws and regulations even though the food may not be readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus or other conditions.”

Benefits to Donation

Aside from the pride a business can take in helping the nearly 30 million Americans at risk of hunger, and the goodwill created by letting your customers know you support your community, there are fiscal benefits as well.

Many businesses can benefit from tax breaks linked to their charitable food donations. The FDC explains several laws that may be used come tax time. Most are based on the fair market value of the donated food. You should always talk with your Attorney or Tax consultant, but the largest benefit of food donation is helping to divert your portion of the 96 billion pounds of food waste currently being sent to our local landfills. By overcoming some of these large roadblocks, there is little reason not to do your part.

Helpful tools from Central

Whether you decide to donate through a facilitation organization like the FDC, or work personally with a local organization, you’ll probably need to invest some additional food pans, and storage or transportation containers. The FDC uses Cambro Camwear and Camcarrier products that Central carries everyday at competitive prices.

Dine Out for No Kid Hungry

Dine Out For No Kid Hungry: Sign Up For 2014!

Dine Out for No Kid Hungry

Restaurants, it’s that time of year again: Dine Out for No Kid Hungry! Every September Share Our Strength® holds this national event in collaboration with the restaurant industry to raise money through promotions to end childhood hunger.  All proceeds go to the Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.

The goal for September 2014 is to raise $10 million. Restaurants can run their promotion anytime throughout the month and are encouraged to consider participating as much as possible.

Since its launch in 2008, Dine Out for No Kid Hungry has brought together thousands of restaurants and millions of consumers to raise more than $18 million to help end childhood hunger so that every child in the U.S. gets the healthy food they need every day.

In addition to raising money and awareness for Dine Out for No Kid Hungry, this event is also a great opportunity to bring awareness and traffic to a restaurant too.

Dine Out for No Kid HungryHow Restaurants Are Involved

To raise money for Dine Out for No Kid Hungry, restaurants run specials or limited-time offers for customers. Best of all, restaurants can run their promotions the way that works best for them or Share Our Strength can help with planning.

Signing Up & Participant Resource Center

Share Our Strength has made signing up for Dine Out for No Kid Hungry easy and it does not take much time to get started. Visit the registration page to be walked through the process for independent, multi-unit corporate or multi-unit franchisee units. From there, restaurants can use the Participant Resource Center to plan their promotional campaign for items or materials such as:

  • Standard promotional materials
  • Customizable promotional materials and guidelines
  • Digital and Media Resources
  • Standard and customizable employee and customer communications

Dine Out for No Kid HungryHow This Changes Lives

The goal of  No Kid Hungry is to end childhood hunger in America, which Share Our Strength said consists of over 16 million children.  This is approximately one out of every five.

Childhood hunger has a domino effect throughout a child’s life that can also affect a community. How? Children who suffer from hunger do not do well in school, get sick more often, are less likely to graduate from high school and may be less likely in the future to support themselves or their own family according to a 2013 study on the social impacts of childhood hunger by Deloitte, on behalf of No Kid Hungry.

By participating and raising funds through Dine Out for No Kid Hungry, restaurants help to ensure that all children have access to nutritious food. Learn more on the “Solution” page of the No Kid Hungry website.

Not a Restaurant, Still Want to Help?

For those who are not a part of the restaurant industry but still would like to help raise money for the cause you can:

Images from the Dine Out for No Kid Hungry website.


Summer School Lunch Programs: Serving Year-Round Nutrition

Summer is just around the corner, and that means most schools will be finished with their cafeteria duties until fall. But many schools throughout the country participate in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The SFSP was created to help low-income children receive nutritious meals when school is not in session.  All children 18 years old and younger are eligible to receive free meals through the summer lunch programs at approved SFSP sites in areas where there is a significant concentration of low-income children.

Summer lunch program background

The SFSP started in 1968 as an amendment to the National School Lunch Act. In 1975, it became a separate program. Currently, the SFSP is the largest federal resource for local sponsors to combine children’s nutrition programs with summer activity programs.  The SFSP is administered by Food and Nutrition Service, which is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. In the summer of 2012, about 39,000 sites provided meals to more than 2.28 million children.  In 2012, Congress spent $398 million on the SFSP programs across the country.

Why have summer lunch programs?

When school is out, only 1 out of 7 children who receive free or reduced lunches during the regular school year will continue to receive meals during the summer months. Good nutrition is essential for children’s physical and social development. Schools, local governments, camps, non-profit universities, and private non-profit organizations can sponsor SFSP programs. Resources for those interested can be found at the Food and Nutrition Service website. These resources includes a Summer Meals ToolkitFAQs for sponsors, and tips on how to raise awareness. As a part of this program, sites will be reimbursed, based on the number of meals served.

A sponsor site has the option to prepare its own meals, purchase meals through another school, or contract meals from a food service management company.  For sites that have their own kitchen and are able to prepare their own meals for the summer lunch program, a higher rate of reimbursement is given for “self-prep” rates.

Central’s school cafeteria products

School trays, Summer Lunch Programs

Central carries everything you need for your school cafeteria.

Whether your school is preparing for a summer lunch program, or getting ready for the upcoming school year, Central has you covered. If you need equipment – check out our selection of refrigeration, cooking, and food prep. We also carry supplies such as food trays and pans, as well as school furniture for your seating needs. If you’re not sure where to start, we have a school product buying guide. We also have expert solutions online, and many manufacturers offer extended warranties to schools. Shop online or call 800-215-9293 to speak to a product consultant!

Tackling the Food Waste Challenge: New Toolkit Offers Best Practices for Reducing Food Waste to Landfills

One of the major challenges in restaurants is food waste. A study by BSR indicated that approximately 80 billion pounds of food is discarded in US landfills each year. They also estimated that restaurants and institutional facilities accounted for around 48% of that number. For restaurant owners, food waste means lost profit. Environmentally, wasted food in landfills is hazardous, as that food releases methane gas as it decomposes. Not to mention,  a lot of this wasted food was safe enough that it could have been donated to food pantries to feed those in need. This is where the Food Waste Reduction Alliance comes in.

Food Waste Challenge

Photo by: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

Photo by: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

The Food Waste Reduction Alliance is a joint collaboration between the Food Marketing Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association and the National Restaurant Association. Recently, they released a Best Practices Toolkit with the goal of increasing donations to food banks and decreasing the amount of food sent to landfills. This toolkit offers solutions and ideas for restaurants and institutions to begin reducing their food waste.

One of the solutions is to conduct a waste characterization assessment. This lets you establish what kind of material is being discarded, and allows you to see which areas can be improved by reducing, donating or recycling waste.

The toolkit also includes use by and sell by date practices. A lot of times, restaurants err on the side of caution and discard food based on use by dates, when a lot of times, that food could have been safe to donate to food banks. The FWRA suggests establishing a relationship with a trusted local food bank, and setting up date extension guidelines for donating food that may not be desirable for sale at full price, but can still be acceptable for donation under certain conditions of use.

Another goal of the Food Waste Challenge is to find creative uses to recycle food waste. A few solutions suggested is donating unusable food to local farmers for animal feed, recycling or donating used cooking oil for biofuel production, and donating organic wastes with high sugar content to help produce ethanol.

How to Get Started

Click here to view the toolkit in its entirety. It contains several helpful links and articles to help you get on the right track to reducing waste and saving money in the process.

In the meantime, shop online at and see our assortment of food storage pans and containers. Great prices and trusted brands to keep your food fresh longer.