28 April, 2020

American Airlines Fuels Community Kitchens to Help Our Nation's Culinary Workers

American Airlines donates 25,000 meals through its partnership with the LEE Initiative

With food banks facing record demand in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, American Airlines donated 25,000 meals to community kitchens through a partnership with the LEE Initiative’s Restaurant Workers Relief Program.

The donation, which benefited kitchens in Chicago and Washington, D.C., marks more than 200,000 pounds of food American has donated to local food banks, hospitals and nonprofit organizations throughout the coronavirus crisis. Much of this food has come from the carrier’s inflight service offerings, helping community kitchens prepare to-go meals for restaurant workers to pick up and take home.

Restaurant employees across the country continue to find themselves working limited or no hours due to the economic impact COVID-19 has had on the restaurant industry. The LEE Initiative’s Restaurant Workers Relief Program was created to support these servers, chefs and staff members when they need it most.

“It’s rewarding to see companies like American Airlines care for communities by providing 25,000 meals to our community kitchens in Chicago and Washington, D.C.,” said Chef Edward Lee, Founder, Mentor and Director of Programming at the LEE Initiative. “I’m truly thankful that the restaurant industry is not being forgotten at a time when so many people across the country are experiencing hardships.”

Lee, who is also a James Beard Foundation award-winning author, has helped turn restaurants into community kitchens with local chefs. The LEE Initiative lists all these kitchen locations on their website.

“Communities across the country have seen a rise in need for meals, and we had a surplus of food due to the decreased demands for air travel,” said Ron DeFeo, Senior Vice President of Global Engagement for American. “The LEE Initiative is a great example of working within communities and nonprofits in a unique way to help provide what they need in an unprecedented time.”

American is dedicated to finding creative ways to repurpose food and support local communities. To date, the airline has donated:

63,000 meals to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
26,000 meals to St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix.
4,000 pounds of fresh produce to Equal Heart in Dallas.
2,900 pounds of food items to Minnie’s Food Pantry in Dallas.
10,000 food items to the Tarrant Area Food Bank in Fort Worth, Texas.
$10,000 worth of perishable goods to three local organizations in North Texas.
Download video footage
Footage of American team members delivering food items to a community kitchen in Chicago is available via download for media use.

Let Good Take Flight
American Airlines is committed to caring for people on life’s journey and remains dedicated to addressing the needs of different communities affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In cooperation with its generous customers, American has raised more than $2.5 million to support the American Red Cross and its volunteers who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Supply kits have been provided to The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston; and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, to support medical professionals on the frontlines. American provided care packages to military bases to be shared with troops who are quarantined after returning from deployment. As a result of excess inventory due to a reduced flying schedule, American is donating many tons of food to food banks across the country. American team members at multiple locations, including Miami International Airport (MIA), Frankfurt am Main Airport (FRA) and Detroit Metropolitan Ai
rport (DTW), are sewing masks for their coworkers and members of the community. The airline also worked with the U.S. Department of State to operate 88 repatriation flights to bring more than 8,000 U.S. citizens home from abroad. American collected $1.2 million through UNICEF’s Change for Good program in 2019 and recently allocated $460,000 of those funds to support COVID-19 relief efforts in Latin America. American continues to operate cargo-only flights, transporting necessary supplies, including personal protective equipment, to the frontlines of the COVID-19 effort.

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