While many businesses focused on staying afloat during the pandemic, DiBella’s Subs launched several new charitable initiatives to help heroes across the 15 communities it serves. What makes this different from chain restaurants launching “give back” programs? First, this small company that started with a single location in 1918 is still an entirely family-run business more than 100 years later. And second, this was so much more than a typical corporate give back program!
The challenge was figuring out exactly what role the restaurant could play in supporting essential workers and local food banks, where demand had risen to some of the highest levels of need. After talking with healthcare organizations and food banks, the DiBella’s Subs leadership team realized how they could be part of the solution: essential workers needed good quality meals, and food banks needed money. The objective became raising money for local food banks, and keeping essential workers healthy and motivated. And publicity of these efforts would have a significant impact on the results.
DiBella’s Subs, which instills a familial culture among its employees and guests has always been committed to the communities it serves and demonstrates its commitment by giving back, but had never invested in publicity for these efforts – until this year. When COVID-19 hit the U.S., DiBella’s Subs needed the community’s awareness and active engagement in order to provide this level of support.
The team jumped into action right away. In March 2020, DiBella’s Subs partnered with food banks in all 15 of its markets to raise funds – donating $365,000 to food banks in Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which supplied more than one million meals. Both the fundraising efforts and the presentation of these huge donations garnered significant news coverage (please see the round-up of stories provided, within the attached nomination).
Simultaneously, DiBella’s Subs focused on essential workers. In March and April, DiBella’s Subs Essential Workers Discount Program helped 314,285 healthcare heroes to save $1.1 million on their meals. The sandwich shop also launched two “Pay It Forward” campaigns to thank frontline workers, including doctors, nurses, first responders, nursing home employees, and teachers.
In the first campaign, DiBella’s Subs granted a 50% discount to any customer who wished to donate a tray of subs to essential workers. DiBella’s Subs covered the rest of the cost, and took care of the delivery. To date, five months into the campaign, this initiative has fed more than 20,000 frontline workers.
The second campaign introduced a “You Give, We Give” twist, where DiBella’s Subs opened the program from trays of subs to individual boxed lunches and matched the donations made by customers. From May through June, first responders and nursing home workers were treated to 4,520 boxed lunches.
The monetary value of DiBella’s Subs donations through these two initiatives is more than $117,590!
In June, DiBella’s Subs launched regional donation efforts to thank Veterans Affairs hospital staff for their service to men and women who have served our county. Throughout the month, more than 4,000 boxed lunches were donated to 20 VA hospitals across Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
As school districts and teachers prepare for a hybrid start to the school year this fall, DiBella’s Subs continues to treat essential workers to lunch. DiBella’s Subs has already fed 2,000 teachers, aides, bus drivers, maintenance, cafeteria workers and administrators in Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania, with additional donations planned as of the time of this nomination.
These efforts simply couldn’t have been as successful without the added awareness from dedicated and strategic publicity, allowing the news media access to the right people at the right times in a COVID-safe way to capture and share the most compelling stories. And, the organizations receiving donations were happy to support DiBella’s efforts to share these stories through news and social media.
From March through August, DiBella’s Subs’ generosity to raise money for food banks, feed frontline workers, healthcare heroes and veterans made headlines more than 80 times and led to hundreds of social media posts with photos and positive comments of gratitude. In the accompanying attachment, please find a comprehensive list of news coverage garnered from this tremendously successful publicity campaign, and a sampling of gratitude expressed through social media.
While many businesses focused on staying afloat during the pandemic, DiBella’s Subs launched several new charitable initiatives to help heroes across the 15 communities it serves. The generosity of DiBella's Subs - to raise money for food banks, feed frontline workers, healthcare heroes, veterans and teachers - made headlines more than 80 times and led to hundreds of social media posts. Please see the accompanying attachment for links to stories and samples of social media engagement.