How one fast-food restaurant is tackling the issue of food insecurity

40 Faces of 40 Years Becky Perrett, Director of Marketing at Runza, standing in front of a Runza sign
Join us for “Runza Feeds the Need” on Tuesday, April 25! 10% of all sales from Heartland-area Runza locations will go directly to the Food Bank to help support our BackPack Program. Please consider stopping by any Runza location to show your support and grab a tasty treat!

Runza® Restaurants may be one of the most recognizable brands in the Heartland. The 75-year-old Nebraska company with 88 locations has grown quite a following with its fanbase. “We love being on the short list of things that you need to try when you come to Nebraska. We know that most brands don’t receive the love from their customers like we do,” says Becky Perrett, Director of Marketing.

The popular beef and cabbage sandwich isn’t the only reason customers support the brand. Becky believes it’s Runza’s dedication to making a difference in their communities. “We know it’s important to give back and we certainly aim to do that on a variety of levels—whether it’s a chain-wide effort, a fundraiser for a local sports team, or involvement at the county fair. We try to look at it from a high level all the way down to the local level, too. It’s just part of our DNA as a company to give back.”

Runza continues to support the Food Bank in a variety of ways. One way is through their collaboration with the Omaha Storm Chasers baseball team. For a game in June, a percentage of Omaha Runza’s merchandise sales and all jersey auction proceeds benefit the Food Bank’s mission—and Runza then presents the Food Bank with a check. In 2022, this resulted in a donation of $10,365.

Another Runza event called “Feed the Need” supports children facing food insecurity. On a Tuesday each April, 10% of sales at all Runza locations go directly to organizations fighting child hunger. This year’s sixth “Feed the Need” takes place on April 25, 2023.

“Because the Food Bank has such a large footprint throughout our location area, it just made sense. We were really focused on childhood hunger and food insecurity for younger folks—and with the work they do on their BackPack Program—it was just a seamless opportunity.”

While Becky is grateful the event helps financially, she’s just as proud that it brings awareness to the issue. “We’re calling attention to the fact that 1 in 7 children in our area may not know when or how they’re going to get their next meal. And if you’re living through that, you really can’t be a kid.  We want people to understand it’s not just a major city issue we see on the news. It’s happening all across our communities.”

Because of their young employee base, Runza recognizes the correlation between nutritious food and physical health in children. “A large percentage of our team is 14 to 19 years old. We value not only that workforce but what it takes to be successful at that age. We think that if we support the kids, it’s also going to create good, stronger communities.”

In return, Runza employees feel empowered by the direct impact they’re making across the Heartland. “We hear from team members that one of the reasons they love their job is because their store team is a family. We think our philanthropic efforts really play into that because they understand how to support each other, and they’re playing a larger role in doing good for the community.”

As the brand continues to broaden its physical footprint—including several locations in 2023—they are thrilled to continue supporting local communities however they can. “We don’t have massive marketing dollars like some of our fast-food competitors, but we do our best to spread the funding and support as much as possible.”

At the end of the day, Runza customers know they’re not just getting a delicious meal—they’re supporting a local brand that is making a lasting impact on the next generation.