According to Green Restaurant Association, one restaurant wastes approximately 100,000 pounds of food a year. The food is either thrown out onto the streets or fill up landfills. 

Today, there are many bakeries, restaurants, and other food joints that donate unsold food to food banks and the hungry, give proceeds, and basically give back to the community. It's important to know who they are and what they do to help others, so we know who to support. 

1. Pret A Manger

cheese, tea, beer
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Pret A Manger is a grab-and-go sandwich shop chain that has been making and selling sandwiches, breads, and salads daily. What's great about Pret is that the stores through the Pret Foundation donate their unsold food to food banks and shelters. Pret's partners include: City Harvest in NY, Thrive DC, Inner City Mission in Chicago, and more. In 2016, Pret A Manger has donated over 700,000 meals to the hungry. 

2. Hale and Hearty Soups

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Auchal Azad

Throughout NYC, Long Island, and Boston, Hale and Hearty Soups donates its unsold food to local food organizations, and partners with food charities. H&HS takes an even further step by fundraising for local schools and has created the "Donate Your Bean and Green" program. Customers hand in their fully stamped "Bean and Green" cards, and the store donates the amount of soups from each card to food banks and shelters. 

3. Panera Bread

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If there's a food chain that sells wholesome and delicious food while also wants to give back to the community, it's Panera Bread. They donate bread, baked goods, and certificates to charities, food banks, and non-profit organization events. 

The Panera Bread Foundation — a nonprofit community café — serves those who can't afford to pay. Panera Bread also participates in the Scrip Fundraising Program to help nonprofit organizations raise money.

Not only does PB participate in programs to help the needy, but it also influences the next generation. PB's "Bakers-in-Training" kids' workshops teach children how to bake; they bake breads for the kids to take home and to donate. 

4. Olive Garden

Olive Garden Restaurant

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This family-friendly food chain always finds ways to give back; every new Olive Garden opening in the U.S and Canada gives a part of their proceeds to local organizations, and old furniture is given to Habitat for Humanity ReStores when the restaurants are remodeled. 

OG donates food through the OG Harvest Program to food banks and through the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program to affected families. Since 2003, it has donated more than 34 million pounds of food. 

But that's not all. In Pasta for Pennies, OG rewards the elementary/middle school class that raises the most money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Student Series with a pasta party. Since 1994, this program has raised more than $280 million.

5. Le Pain Quotidien 

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Auchal Azad

Even though Le Pain Quotidien is a simple bakery-café chain, it supports a variety of local organizations. These organizations vary from Food Agriculture and Hunger Relief to schools, Youth Community or Educational Groups, and Animal welfare organizations. It tries to fulfill requests to donates its wholesome and natural food for a good cause. 

6. The Cheesecake Factory

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Known for its rich cheesecakes, scrumptious food, and extremely long wait times, The Cheesecake Factory should also be recognized for its generosity. Through Feeding America—a hunger-relief charity—The Cheesecake Factory donates 25 cents per slice of featured cheesecake. 

Through The Cheesecake Factory Oscar & Evelyn Overton Charitable Foundation, the staff members raise money for organizations of their choice; the foundation also hosts charity events and supports local organizations such as City of Hope, South Los Angeles Youth & Community Center, and others. 

7. Eataly 

tea, wine, beer
Auchal Azad

Eataly offers a diverse range of services, from selling books and apparel to coffee, pasta, and other Italian food. It also donates its unsold food to City Harvest and the Greater Chicago Food Depository, as well as participates in community programs. 

For Coffee for Nepal, Eataly donates its coffee proceeds to AGIRE which is a government emergency response network in Italy. During Negroni Week, the Eataly in New York and Chicago raises money for food banks by selling Negroni drinks. In the nonprofit Red, Eataly partners with other restaurants to raise awareness and money to fight against AIDS

There are many more restaurants that give back to the community in all sorts of ways, but these are just a few of the food places that are really involved in serving their communities. So much food is wasted in America every year and these restaurants—with the help of you being a customer—are a big contribution to prevent food waste.