Restaurants of Jamaica [ROJ], franchise holder for the KFC and Pizza Hut brands in Jamaica, has joined the World Hunger Relief effort initiated by franchisor YUM! Brands – with the local fundraising campaign set to run from October 16 to November 20 and with the principal local beneficiary slated to be the Meals-on-Wheels programme of the Jamaica Red Cross. 


The annual World Hunger Relief campaign of YUM! Brands – the world’s largest restaurant company in terms of system restaurants, with nearly 36,000 restaurants in over 110 countries and territories and which was ranked #239 on the Fortune 500 List, with revenues in excess of $11 billion in 2008 – is the world’s largest private sector hunger relief effort to raise awareness, volunteerism and funds to benefit the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) and other hunger relief agencies. KFC and Pizza Hut are among five YUM!-franchised Restaurants worldwide which participate in the World Hunger Relief project.


Since the project was launched in 2007, more than one million YUM! employees, franchisees and their families have volunteered more than nine million hours to aid hunger relief efforts in communities worldwide. The effort has raised US$36 million for the WFP and other hunger relief organizations and is helping to provide approximately 160 million meals and save the lives of about 4 million people in remote corners of the world, where hunger is most prevalent. 


Restaurant of Jamaica’s own efforts toward hunger relief have been ongoing for most of its 34-year history.  This has included providing sustained feeding support for Children’s Homes and Homes for the Aged which are located in proximity to KFC restaurants.  But it has also included project support for community interests who regularly solicit assistance from ROJ for meals for their fundraising efforts, as well as for upcoming projects such as the National Ceremony and Exhibition which will mark Jamaica’s celebration of World Food Day 2009 on Friday, October 16.  KFC will be helping to feed the 500 children who are expected to participate in that event in Clarendon. 


At today’s [October 13] announcement of the involvement of Restaurants of Jamaica in the International Hunger Relief Project, initiated by YUM!, ROJ Marketing Director Tina Myers Matalon revealed that the Jamaican leg of the campaign will be rolled out throughout its 32 KFC and 5 Pizza Hut Restaurants – which are located in 11 of the island’s 14 parishes – on World Food Day, which will be celebrated on Friday, October 16.


She expressed gratification that YUM! had agreed for ROJ to retain 50% of what is collected through the campaign, so that assistance could be provided for hunger relief projects in Jamaica.  “This is very important consideration for us, given that Jamaica’s own hunger issues have also been increasing in the current challenging economic climate,” she added


Jamaica will, in fact, benefit 100% from the total amount raised since, after remitting the required 50% to YUM! ROJ intends to match the remainder of what was raised and to turn the amounts over to the local beneficiary.


The beneficiary selected – that is, the Jamaica Red Cross – operates 13 branches, with one being found in each parish and with Kingston & St. Andrew twinned as one parish.  A major reason for selection of the JRC is that it is a “sound” organization, having in place the systems which allow it to respond efficiently in both `normal’ and `crisis’ situations.  Additionally, it has an excellent reputation for responding impartially to the needs of Jamaicans when they are at their most vulnerable.


Through its CARE programme, the organization executes a number of projects – inclusive of Meals-on-Wheels, otherwise known as the feeding programme – which seek to promote social welfare activities targeted at the most vulnerable in our society.  According to Mrs. Myers Matalon, “ROJ is pleased to team with this organizationally-sound entity, which will manage the funds raised in a manner which will not bring the integrity of the KFC and Pizza Hut brands into question.”

And in her comments on the initiative, Mrs. Lois Hue, Deputy Director at the Jamaica Red Cross, welcomed “the magnanimous gesture, which will have immediate and long term benefits for the vulnerable people we serve.   We will be able to expand our reach so that for at least one year we will be able to reach 10% more clients than we are currently serving,” she added. 


Mrs. Hue pointed out that, in order to ensure sustainability of the larger numbers, the Jamaica Red Cross would be using some of the funds received from the local KFC and Pizza Hut Hunger Project to establish a vegetable garden at the JRC’s Kingston branch to grow some of the vegetables that will be needed for the daily meals.  “This is expected to reduce the expenditure and facilitate the higher number of beneficiaries,” she said.


Additionally, the Jamaica Red Cross plans to improve the efficiency of the service it offers by refurbishing or replacing outdated and ineffective equipment in the kitchens.  “The need for the service we provide far surpasses our financial capacity.   Words, therefore, cannot fully express the impact that this gift will have; this and any partnership which enables us to fulfill our mandate of alleviating human suffering is priceless,” the JRC Executive added. 


Five-time Grammy winner Christina Aguilera has become the global “voice” for World Hunger Relief.  According to David Novak, Chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, Inc., “Christina’s global iconic status will raise tremendous attention to this critical issue and, more importantly, will save millions of lives.”