“The reason we do it is to give back to the community,” local franchise director of operations Nathan Napier said in a phone interview with the Cleveland Daily Banner. “If we can give a slice of pizza on a cold day … to help their day go a little better, that is just a small thing we can do.”
Local participants were aided by the Little Caesars Love Kitchen. Usually a responder to natural disasters, the Love Kitchen tours the United States and Canada giving those employed by local franchises a unique volunteer opportunity. The Love Kitchen has “responded to disasters such as the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma, the hurricanes in the East and on the Gulf Coast, the site of the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and the 1995 Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City,” according to a press release from the corporate office.
When the food truck is not needed at a disaster location, the corporate office calls franchise owners to see if they would be willing to participate, and schedules an appropriate time.
“The Love Kitchen was created to provide quality meals for people who need them,” said Little Caesars franchisee Mitch Napier in a corporate press release. “As a member of the area business community, it’s important for us to support people when they need it and help make the community stronger. We’re excited to support this program with food and staff to provide a quality meal for people who otherwise may not get one.”
Volunteers came out from all three Bradley County locations. Shelby Farris, a six-year employee of the Keith Street location, said she wanted to be a part of the project to help people in the community.
“This will be my first time volunteering,” Farris said. “It’s been a good experience for me, something I can tell my boys I’ve done to help out in the community.”
She said the opportunity gave her a desire to volunteer more. The volunteer crew arrived at the site hours before dinnertime to prep and cook the pizzas. The three-person crew made 60 pizzas, enough to feed 150 people. All the supplies for the pizzas are donated by the local franchise.
“We just think this is an awesome thing for them to do,” case manager Theresa Palacio said.
The Cleveland Emergency Shelter serves about 40 people a night.
“This winter we are really packed,” Palacio said.
She said everyone has been welcome at the shelter during the recent cold snap which saw temperatures dipping into the teens and single digits.
The Love Kitchen will also make a stop near New Life Bible Church, which has its own food ministry, the Community Kitchen, before leaving town.
Wherever Little Caesar sends its Love Kitchen, it partners with local nonprofits to help those ordinarily served by that organization.
The Love Kitchen has been recognized by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush with a The President's Volunteer Action Award Citation.