This corporate responsibility milestone is a bit cheesy – in a good way

By Dave Armon
Publisher, CR Magazine

I’m not a big fan of milestone stories.  The 10th anniversary of this or the silver celebration of that isn’t usually all that compelling.

But when I got a call the other day from Pizza Hut, I was impressed.

Turns out the folks behind the grilled cheese stuffed crust pie also do one helluva job feeding the hungry. And it isn’t a recent phenomenon.

Pizza Hut calculates that a system-wide program to donate pizzas and pasta that would otherwise be tossed into the rubbish has totaled 100 million tons of food since it launched in 1992. 

“Pizza Hut was doing CSR before it was a term,” said Doug Terfehr, senior director of marketing and corporate communications for the Yum! Brands subsidiary, which was born in Witchata, Kan., in 1958. “This isn’t a bottom line spreadsheet exercise. We want to be part of the community.”

Homeless shelters, orphanages and churches are among the recipients of impromptu pizza parties, said Terfehr.

When dough is approaching expiration, Pizza Hut trains its staffers to fire up some pies for donation instead of wasting perfectly good food.  The cooked pizzas are co-mingled with blooper pizzas – food orders that were made in error, such as sausage-onion rather than the onion-olive pie the customer really wanted – and chilled in specially designed plastic bins.

“It’s perfectly safe and good to eat, but rather than waste it we donate it,” said Terfehr, crediting a longstanding partnership with Food Donation Connection for ironing out the logistics so the effort can take place across thousands of restaurants and hundreds of franchisees.

As many as one in eight Americans face hunger, according to Feeding America.  More than 30 percent of food is sent to the waste stream rather than feeding those in need, according to the USDA.

In addition to being the Food Donation Connection’s largest donor, Pizza Hut also participates in the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, an industry coalition created by the National Restaurant Association and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. The alliance works to reduce the amount of food waste generated, increase food donations to those in need, and encourage recycling of unavoidable food waste to divert it from landfills.

As our team at CR Magazine work on programming COMMIT!Forum, our Oct. 11-12 gathering of corporate responsibility practitioners, the Pizza Hut 100 million tons food milestone brought fond memories of the farewell address given by Jonathan Blum, public affairs chief for Yum! Brands, who retired in 2016 after 23 years with the fast food giant and its Taco Bell unit.

Blum, who also held the title of chief global nutrition officer, was credited for building the largest food and cash donation program with the United Nations World Food Programme.  There was not a dry eye in the house at COMMIT!Forum as Blum talked about the African villagers he met during his decades on the ground feeding those in need.

Looking forward to sharing more stories like this during our conference this fall. 


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