Denny’s Hungry for Education program combats hunger, gives scholarships

Photo credit: Denny’s

Denny’s, America’s diner for over sixty years, has been known for their delectable menu of affordable meals. However, not many know of their community efforts in fighting hunger in America. Denny’s has stayed true to their mission of feeding people. Since 2011, their Hungry for Education scholarship program has had a dual purpose; combating childhood hunger and providing scholarships to young people across the country. Denny’s Hungry for Education campaign recognizes students by awarding deserving students with scholarships for their ideas to help Denny’s efforts to fight childhood hunger. Denny’s goes beyond just giving funds for scholarships, they take the ideas of qualified applicants and put them into action.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 13.1 million children under 18 in the United States have little to no access to food. Denny’s has awarded over one million dollars to students for their creative ideas to curb hunger as well as No Kid Hungry® to end childhood hunger in the U.S. Denny’s director of diversity affairs and multicultural engagement, April Kelly-Drummond, gave rolling out some insight on the company’s minority and educational initiatives.

On a local and national level, name three civil rights and minority related initiatives that receive Denny’s support.

For more than 60 years, local families and communities across the country have made Denny’s a neighborhood gathering spot. We’re proud of that heritage and, like any good neighbor, we help support local and national diverse causes that our communities care about — from education initiatives and minority business conferences, to childhood hunger programs and fundraisers.

We’re proud to work with many partners and organizations, including the likes of the AAA Scholarship Foundation (local in Arizona), League of United Latin American Citizens, National Action Network and the National Urban League. We have recognized some of our partners, such as the Tom Joyner Foundation at a sponsored televised BET/Denny’s Community Impact Awards for their efforts to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities with scholarships for diverse students.

What type of inclusion activities has Denny’s implemented?

One of our largest inclusion initiatives is our Hungry for Education Scholarship Program. The annual program, which starts in September, asks elementary, high school and college students to submit essays on how they can help fight childhood hunger in their communities. These scholarships are open to all including our Denny’s employees and their families. We select over 30 students — and growing — every year to receive scholarships, with one deserving student chosen to have their essay be put into action in their community. For example, in honor of one student’s essay submission, Ilse Degaldo, Denny’s rolled out an “Adopt a School” program at her local elementary school in El Paso, Texas. For one month, 10 percent of proceeds from every Original Grand Slam® purchased was donated to an after-school program at Clendenin Elementary School, her alma mater.

Denny’s is committed to education, what is the mission of your Hungry for Education initiative.

Our Hungry for Education program strives to recognize and empower elementary, high school and college students by awarding initiative, drive and a desire to succeed.

April Kelly-Drummond, Denny’s director, diversity affairs and multicultural engagement (Photo credit: Denny’s)

How important is education in regard to Denny’s mission?

Incredibly important. As America’s Diner, we love to feed people; not just their appetites, but also their minds. Helping students gain access to education and extend their learning and opportunity is something our organization is very passionate about.

How many students have received scholarships?

Since 2011, we have awarded over 300 scholarships to many deserving students across the country, and the numbers are growing every year.

As a successful woman, what advice can you give to young professional women aspiring to climb the corporate ladder?

1. Don’t be afraid to fail, take a risk. This is how you learn and grow.

2. Don’t just aspire to climb the corporate ladder, inspire to redefine what success is to you.

3. Take care of yourself along the way, reach out to others and enjoy your journey, this will help you stay connected to the essence of who you are.

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