Romano’s Macaroni Grill® has partnered with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry to work toward ending child hunger in America. The goal is to connect kids to 1 Million Meals through a platform that includes in-restaurant promotions, social sharing activations and a blogger call-to-action.
According to statistics released this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 16.6 million children, or one in five, struggled with hunger in 2011.
“One in five…that’s a staggering number,” said Brandon Coleman III, Romano’s Macaroni Grill chief marketing officer, in a press release. “No Kid Hungry has dedicated years to creating a program to help end the crisis, and we are thrilled to be a partner.”
Through the end of September, Macaroni Grill diners can donate $2 to No Kid Hungry and receive $5 off their next visit. Each donation helps connect a child in need with to up to 20 meals.
Give $2 to get $5? It’s hard to argue with that. And the RAK staff had a chance to taste-test some of the menu items that $5 certificate will buy when a chef from the Scottsdale branch showed up at our office with trays of samples, including three savory Italian tapas and two incredible desserts.
The Brushetta Crostini was the hands-down favorite. Staff writer/photographer Dan Friedman has always maintained that he could survive on a bruschetta-only diet, so his thumbs-up carried a lot of weight. Our staff agreed that the combination of crispy but “not too hard” toast and a fresh tomato/basil/Parmesan sauce was “amazing.”
The Mac & Cheese Bites — balls of breaded, fried, macaroni and cheese — offered a truly guilty pleasure. Even the most die-hard nutrition fans among us couldn’t resist sampling. And while a couple of bites go a long way, this grown-up version of a childhood, comfort-food favorite was completely satisfying.
The Spicy Ricotta Meatballs weren’t as spicy as we thought they would be, but the orange zest garnish offered an unexpected burst of citrus flavor that made this appetizer stand out.
Then we turned to the desserts. OMG. The tiramisu was rich and creamy but not too heavy, packing just enough liquor flavoring to give it a kick. Production Manager Tina Gerami, who has lots of Italian blood in her family tree, grew up sampling tiramisu at Italian bakeries, so her enthusiastic approval meant a lot.
And then there was the Homemade Chocolate Cake, which we received in the form of cake balls. Circulation Director Brandy Collet (the only person on our staff to ever complete a marathon!) is a huge chocolate fan; she pronounced the cake “lava like” and grabbed a second as she decided to add a few miles to her run that afternoon. Marketing Director MaryAnn Ortiz-Lieb came up with the idea of globbing some tiramisu onto a bite of chocolate ball, which resulted in more than a few happy “sugar comas” in our office the rest of the afternoon.
It was, of course, very sobering to realize how many American kids can’t count on regular meals, let alone anything like the one we’d just consumed.
Besides enjoying a meal at Macaroni Grill and making a $2 donation, there are three more ways to connect hungry kids to meals.
Every time you share a photo from the Mac Grill Give Facebook Gallery, Macaroni Grill will donate $1 to help connect a kid to 10 meals.
Tag a Tweet or Instagram photo of your Macaroni Grill experience with #macgrillgive. For every tag, Macaroni Grill will donate $1 to help connect a kid to 10 meals.
Macaroni Grill also is enlisting the food and mom blogger community to help end childhood hunger with a single post. When bloggers tag #macgrillgive to a recipe, message or photo of their favorite Italian meal on their blog, Macaroni Grill will donate $50 to connect a child to up to 500 meals.
Romano’s Macaroni Grill operates casual-elegant Italian restaurants in more than 200 locations worldwide, with five here in the Valley:
Goodyear: 1828 N. Litchfield Rd., 623-547-0299
Mesa: 1705 S. Stapley Dr., 480-632-2699
Phoenix: 21001 N. Tatum Blvd. #4, 480-538-8755 and 2949 W. Agua Fria Fwy., 623-580-8681
Scottsdale: 7245 E. Gold Dust Ave., 480-596-6676
Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry™ is a national fundraising event that brings together thousands of restaurants and millions of consumers each September to help make sure no child in America grows up hungry. Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry is nationally sponsored by Sysco, American Express, Ecolab, ONEHOPE Wine, Food Network, Clear Channel and the National Restaurant Association. DineOutForNoKidHungry.org.