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Olive Garden has been giving back to homeless youth since 2003

Posted at 5:25 PM, Aug 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-11 20:25:40-04

Nevada has the 4th highest statewide population for homeless youth in the county. That's according to Arash Ghafoori, Executive Director for the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth.

"Quite frankly it's an epidemic," he said. 

And while NPHY works to serve more than 5,000 to 6,000 youth every year in Clark County, the Olive Garden near Flamingo Road and Maryland Parkway aims to help them out.

Most restaurants have unserved food at the end of the day. Rather than throw it away, Olive Garden restaurants across the country donate their extras to nonprofits in need.

Since the program's inception in 2003, the Olive Garden on Flamingo has donated over 40,500 pounds of food. And Ghafoori says the youth he serves appreciates every morsel. 

"In the culinary space, people talk about the experience they have with food, and how it becomes part of their memories," he explained. "This food is not only a natural, consumable substance, but it's also part of a memory and a bond we form with our youth." 

"There's this particular youth," Ghafoori continued, "and he's in a college basketball team. He's in our program and he's really, really tall. Somehow he always gets to the very front of the line every time he smells Chicken and Gnocchi soup. I'm always looking for him, because when I see him lining up I know it's going to be a good soup that day."

Together, Olive Garden restaurants in Las Vegas have donated more than 240,000 pounds of food over the past 14 years, and 37.8 million pounds nationwide. 

If you would like to donate to NPHY or volunteer, visit their website at NPHY.org