Darden Restaurants Supports American Red Cross Response to Hurricane Sandy Member of the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program Also Providing Drinking Water for Disaster Victims

ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Darden Restaurants, and its family of restaurant brands that include Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, is supporting the American Red Cross as they respond to those affected by Hurricane Sandy and donating bottled water to help local families. As a member of the Red Cross' Annual Disaster Giving Program, Darden provides financial support that the Red Cross uses in disaster response. 

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"Our restaurants and our restaurant teams are members of hundreds of local communities across the country," said Drew Madsen, president and COO of Darden. "And as a caring member of these communities, we're committed to serving them beyond the walls of our restaurants. By supporting the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program, we know help is available right away for victims who need it."

In addition to financial support of the Red Cross, Darden is also donating much needed drinking water in the hardest hit areas. The company is sending five tractor-trailers containing 6,000 cases of bottled water from restaurants that remain closed due to power outages to Red Cross shelters in New Jersey and New York. Darden is also responding to the needs of its employees who have been impacted by the storm. The Darden Dimes program, an employee-funded assistance program with $1.7 million in annual employee donations, is providing financial assistance to employees in need.

"These communities have supported our restaurants for decades," said Gary Brown, Senior Vice President of Operations for Olive Garden.  "Our restaurant teams wanted to help out right away, so we got to work immediately on re-routing these shipments of water to the local Red Cross shelters."

"Thanks to the generosity of our Annual Disaster Giving Program members, the Red Cross is able to mobilize supplies and staff to provide help to people and communities in need," said Neal Litvack, chief development officer at the American Red Cross. "These contributions, along with the support of the American public, are critical during hurricanes and similar disasters because they enable the Red Cross to rush immediate relief to disaster victims before the first donation has been given."

Since the Annual Disaster Giving Program's inception in 1997, members have pledged donations to the Red Cross in advance of major disasters to ensure an immediate response will meet the needs of people who are affected by disasters of all sizes, at no cost and regardless of income.

Individuals can join forces with companies who are members of the Annual Disaster Giving Program and help provide food, shelter, emotional support and other assistance to the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year by going to www.redcross.org or calling
1-800- RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make a donation. 

About Darden Restaurants

Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), the world's largest full-service restaurant company, owns and operates more than 2,000 restaurants that generate over $8.0 billion in annual sales. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing 185,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people. In 2012, Darden was named to the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the second year in a row and is the only full-service restaurant company to ever appear on the list. Our restaurant brands – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House – reflect the rich diversity of those who dine with us. Our brands are built on deep insights into what our guests want. For more information, please visit www.darden.com.

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

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SOURCE Darden Restaurants, Inc.: General



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