Whitsons Warms Up Our Communities with its Enhancing Life Program

Posted on December 15, 2022

At Whitsons, we believe that true partnerships extend beyond the cafeteria. The communities of our client partners are home to our customers, team members and their families—and when our communities succeed, we all succeed.

Investing time, talent and resources in the communities we serve is embedded in our culture and acts as a way to support our partners and provide meaningful connections and opportunities to the members of those communities.

The need for basic necessities has risen exponentially due to the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The poverty rate in 2020 increased for the first time in five years, with 37 million Americans currently living at or below poverty level and struggling to provide the essentials for their families. The holidays are an especially challenging time of year, but they can also be a time for all of us to express generosity, support and good will.


Whitsons’ Enhancing Life Program

In the spirit of giving back and in alignment with the sense of family values that Whitsons upholds, we decided to launch our new Enhancing Life program this year. Our intention is to support our communities in different ways, and it is our hope that this program inspires others to do the same.

Each month, we host a different initiative through which our teams and partners can make a positive impact that will be felt directly in the communities they serve. Our efforts to give back go beyond our meals to truly make a difference for those in need. Most recently, the “Coats For Our Communities” project provided teams with an opportunity to collect much needed coats to help their communities stay warm this winter.


One Warm Coat

Whitsons partnered with the non-profit organization, One Warm Coat, to run a six-week coat drive throughout the fall. This organization’s mission is to provide free coats to those in need while promoting volunteerism and environmental sustainability. One Warm Coat serves as an umbrella organization with a network of 1,400 non-profits, ensuring that the coats collected from local drives go directly into that community.

In total, Whitsons had eleven teams participate in this event, including our corporate office, regional culinary centers and several school district nutrition teams. The teams combined to collect and donate almost 700 coats in support of a total of thirteen local non-profit organizations.


Collecting for Our Communities

It was apparent that every one of our teams put their all into this coat drive and did an amazing job giving back to their individual communities. Here are a few stories from our teams that show the impact of their contribution and dedication to this initiative.

  • Hamden Public Schools, CT. Hamden donated 43 coats to Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) in nearby New Haven. While keeping their donation local, they were able to help an organization that assists refugee families, asylum seekers and other immigrant families.
  • Regional School District No. 8, CT. It was great to see that a small district with a big heart was able to collect so many coats to support those in need in Windham County. They ended up collecting and donating the most coats, with a total of 117 for Covenant Soup Kitchen in nearby Willimantic, CT.
  • Easton Area School District, PA. This team’s efforts directly impacted the students they serve every day. Their collection of 46 coats went to Easton Family Connection and Lehigh Valley Communities, supporting their existing list of district students in need of a warm coat.
  • Brooklyn Culinary Production Center, NY. The Brooklyn Culinary Production Center donated their coats to Jannah’s Hands Inc., a non-profit organization that focuses on providing aid and relief to eradicate poverty, under-education, teen pregnancy, teen runaways and teen homelessness. In doing so, they helped youth and families in their local neighborhood.
  • CREC - Ana Grace, CT. CREC’s non-profit of choice was the Community Partners in Action organization, focused on building community by providing services that promote accountability, dignity and restoration for people affected by the criminal justice system. They also collected hats, gloves and sweatshirts along with a total of 75 coats!
  • Islandia Culinary Center/“Preppy Meals” and Whitsons Corporate Office/“The Coat Calvary.” These two teams creatively turned their drive into a competition within the Whitsons Corporate Office in Islandia, NY, combining to collect 168 coats across two local non-profits to increase their impact on the local community: Maureen’s Haven Homeless Outreach and Gods Blessing Plan.

The companywide event was the first of its kind for Whitsons’ Enhancing Life program and was a meaningful success. Mark Kirn, Resident District Manager, shared how much this drive meant to him and his team.

“It hits so close to home,” he said. “One of the most rewarding days I’ve had here in Easton. The kids were so excited to receive their new coats. They were dancing around and hugging us when they picked them up. It was truly a great day! This is what it is all about for our team!”

In our effort to continue the charitable momentum, additional programs are planned for the remainder of the year, including our: Enhancing Life for the Holidays donations and drives (already in progress); MLK Remembrance Day to promote inclusivity and equality; Connecting Communities Cookbook to engage students in community recipe sharing; and Earth Day to promote sustainability and environmental consciousness.

We look forward to continuing our outreach to our communities as we strive to uphold our key promise to treat everyone like family.


Giving Back to Your Community

Whitsons is invested in our communities beyond just the food we serve. We hope that our Enhancing Life program gets our partners excited about being a part of a community and giving back when they have the means to do so. We are thrilled to see the outcome of what Enhancing Life has done so far and can’t wait for more districts to join our monthly events.

To learn more about how Whitsons can help your community learn about healthy nutrition, giving back and so much more, contact us today!