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Panda Express Partners with DonorsChoose to Bring Lunar New Year Celebrations to Classrooms Nationwide

The American Chinese Trailblazer will match all donations that fund teachers’ Lunar New Year projects, up to $100,000, to provide the resources needed to bring the rich history and traditions of the holiday to life

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The American Chinese Trailblazer will match all donations that fund teachers’ Lunar New Year projects, up to $100,000, to provide the resources needed to bring the rich history and traditions of the holiday to life

ROSEMEAD, Calif. /PRNewswire/ — Today, Panda Express®, the largest family-owned and operated Asian dining concept in the U.S., launches the first nationwide Lunar New Year Classroom Initiative in partnership with educational nonprofit DonorsChoose. Inspired by Panda’s free cultural curriculum “Let’s Explore!: Lunar New Year” for educators, the American Chinese restaurant brand and DonorsChoose have created a 2x donation match program to support teacher project requests dedicated to Lunar New Year celebrations on the DonorsChoose platform. Panda Express is pledging up to $100,000 to help teachers get their hands-on resources, kits and materials needed to bring lessons about the vibrant holiday to life for students. Starting December 13th, Panda invites everyone to visit the Panda Express x DonorsChoose Lunar New Year Classroom Initiative at DonorsChoose.org/pandaexpress, where they can donate directly to a classroom of their choice based on city, state and zip code.

“Lunar New Year is one of the most exciting times of the year in Asian culture, and every year, it presents an opportunity for us at Panda to create meaningful conversations around the holiday with our guests, associates, friends and families,” said Andrea Cherng, Chief Brand Officer at Panda Express. “Nearly fifteen years ago, Panda launched the ‘Lets Explore!: Lunar New Year’ curriculum to spark cultural curiosity in our local communities, and it’s grown to become such a valuable resource for educators all over the country. We’re thrilled to be partnering with DonorsChoose, inviting donors to help amplify this important initiative and foster cultural appreciation and inclusivity within our younger generations inside and outside the classroom.”

Studies* show that cultural awareness plays an important role in helping young children develop a positive sense of identity and builds self-esteem. By bringing Lunar New Year celebrations to classrooms nationwide, Panda Express and DonorsChoose are not only deepening multicultural education for today’s youth but also acknowledging the cultural significance of one of the world’s most celebrated holidays centered around universal values of community and togetherness. This partnership marks the first Lunar New Year Campaign in the history of DonorsChoose, and while the campaign is open to all teachers nationwide, special efforts will be made to target schools in Panda’s local communities and Equity Focus Schools, where the majority of students are Black, Latino, or Native American and where the majority of students come from low-income households.

“Teaching about Lunar New Year encourages our students to appreciate their own cultures or cultures that may be different from their own,” said Alix Guerrier, CEO of DonorsChoose. “Panda Express is providing educators with resources that make for a festive celebration of the Lunar New Year and for inspiring cultural learning in the classroom.”

First developed by Panda Express in 2008, the “Let’s Explore!: Lunar New Year” program removes common barriers to cultural learning by providing a simple and authentic way for educators to honor the unique traditions and stories of Lunar New Year in their classrooms. Panda’s “Let’s Explore!: Lunar New Year” program is a free interactive curriculum that any educator can sign up for at community.pandaexpress.com/lets-explore-lny. In 2022 alone, more than 3,140 teachers and nearly 300,000 students across 28 states participated in the program.

Designed for in-classroom and distance learning for students grade Pre-K through 5th, the “Let’s Explore!: Lunar New Year” program features eight interactive activities that delve into the key components of Lunar New Year celebrations, including the origin of the holiday, the meaning behind lucky foods eaten during the 15-day long celebration, the symbolism of lucky red envelopes and red lanterns, and more. Special Lunar New Year activity booklets will be sent out to participating classrooms and youth serving organizations.

To learn more about how you can support the Panda Express x DonorsChoose Lunar New Year Classroom Initiative visit DonorsChoose.org/pandaexpress, and to sign up for Panda’s “Let’s Explore!: Lunar New Year” free interactive curriculum, visit community.pandaexpress.com/lets-explore-lny.

*Sources: Science DailyThe Early Childhood Team of Nebraska Extension

About Panda Express®
On a mission to inspire better lives, Panda Express® is the largest Asian dining concept in the US. Family-owned and operated since 1983 by Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Andrew and Peggy Cherng, Panda Express is best known as a trailblazer for creating a wide variety of industry-first recipes, including its best seller the Original Orange Chicken® and award-winning Honey Walnut Shrimp, which have defined the category of authentic American Chinese cuisine. Each dish at Panda Express is thoughtfully crafted with quality ingredients and inspired by bold Chinese flavors and culinary principles. The restaurant brand has more than 2,500 locations and has introduced American Chinese cuisine to 12 international countries.

Powered by a global family of associates, Panda Cares®, Panda’s philanthropic arm, has raised more than $282 million and has dedicated countless volunteer hours in bettering the health and education for over 13 million youth, as well as supporting communities in need since 1999. In 2021, Panda Express established the Panda CommUnity Fund — a five-year, $10 million community investment and response program that supports immediate and sustainable solutions from national and local organizations to uplift diverse groups, including people of color and other marginalized communities. For more information about Panda, visit pandaexpress.com, or find us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

About DonorsChoose
DonorsChoose is the leading way to give to public schools. Since 2000, 5.6 million people and partners have contributed $1.3 billion to support over 2 million teacher requests for classroom resources and experiences. As the most trusted crowdfunding platform for teachers, donors, and district administrators alike, DonorsChoose vets each request, ships the funded resources directly to the classroom, and provides thank yous and reporting to donors and school leaders. Charity Navigator and GuideStar have awarded DonorsChoose, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, their highest ratings for transparency and accountability. For more information, visit www.donorschoose.org.

SOURCE Panda Express

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Salvation Army Research Finds Food Bank Usage on the Rise as Food Security Challenges Persist

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TORONTO /CNW/ – New research from The Salvation Army Canada finds that many Canadians continue to struggle to meet their basic needs with food affordability, inflation and housing security challenges persisting as top issues.

As one of the largest non-governmental direct providers of social services in Canada, The Salvation Army produces the biannual Canadian Poverty and Socioeconomic Analysis to better understand the attitudes, behaviours and experiences of Canadians on issues such as the availability of housing and food, general affordability and related health outcomes.

Salvation Army
New research from The Salvation Army Canada finds that many Canadians continue to struggle to meet their basic needs. (CNW Group/The Salvation Army)

Due to overwhelming feedback from policymakers, news media and other stakeholders, The Salvation Army will now produce the Canadian Poverty and Socioeconomic Analysis twice a year, in the spring and fall. This will allow The Salvation Army to quantify the demand for ongoing social services provided and help the organization to better serve those in need.

The most recent research shows Canadians rank health care, inflation and food affordability as their top concerns. These findings are in line with The Salvation Army’s internal data, which reveal households that were inactive in reaching out for help are now active, and the number of new households seeking assistance, such as food, clothing, furniture and emergency housing, is on the rise.

The report finds that 26 percent of Canadians polled continue to be extremely concerned about having enough income to cover their basic needs, and that concerns around food security are on the rise. While seven percent of respondents said they recently accessed a food bank, food hamper or community meal program (up from six percent in October 2023), the percentage of first-time users is up sharply, to 61 percent compared to 43 Percent in October 2023.

“The increase in first-time users of food banks is an alarming indicator of the conditions that many Canadians are facing,” said Lt-Colonel John Murray, territorial secretary for communications, The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda. “We often find that when people show up at a food bank it can be the tip of the iceberg for additional issues they may be facing. The Salvation Army is committed to a holistic approach in supporting people through partnerships that help create a positive impact on individuals and families.”

The number of respondents who said they had skipped or reduced the size of at least one meal increased to 26 percent, up from 21 percent previously (October 2023). More Canadians also said they’d bought less nutritious food to save money and had reduced their grocery bill to pay for other necessities.

On financial issues, 72 percent of respondents described challenges managing limited financial resources in the past year, including cutting back on non-essential needs (59 percent), changing habits to save money (52 percent) and using savings or going into debt to afford basic needs (36 percent).

“Despite easing inflation numbers, life is still difficult for many Canadians,” said Murray. “Food insecurity is just one symptom facing people today. At The Salvation Army, our vision is to reduce barriers and address the root causes of poverty, working together with people to achieve their goals in overcoming them.”

Last year, more than three million visits were made to The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda for assistance, including 2.1 million visits for food, clothing or practical help, 438,000 visits for Christmas food hampers and toys, and 3.2 million community meals.

Survey Methodology:

This report contains findings from research conducted by Edelman Data & Intelligence on behalf of The Salvation Army to uncover Canadians’ attitudes and experiences with poverty and related socioeconomic issues.

The study was conducted March 11-14, 2024, among a nationally representative sample of 1,515 Canadians who are members of the online Angus Reid Forum, balanced and weighted on age, gender and region. Note: Canadians living in Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut were not included in the survey.

For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. And, where a margin of error is not available, the research department provides a comparable one so that the audience can have some context to the value of the poll.

About The Salvation Army:

The Salvation Army is an international Christian organization that began its work in Canada in 1882 and has grown to become one of the largest direct providers of social services in the country. The Salvation Army gives hope and support to vulnerable people in 400 communities across Canada and in more than 130 countries around the world. Its community and social service activities include: hunger relief for individuals and families through food banks and feeding programs; shelter for people experiencing homelessness and support for those needing housing; rehabilitation for those struggling with substance-use recovery; long-term care and palliative care; Christmas assistance, such as food hampers and toys; after-school programs, camps and school nutrition programs for children and youth; and life-skills classes, such as budgeting, cooking for a family, and anger management. When you give to The Salvation Army, you are investing in the future of people in your community. 

News releases, articles and updated information can be found at https://salvationarmy.ca/
A list of regional media representatives can be found at: https://salvationarmy.ca/news-and-media/media-contacts/

SOURCE The Salvation Army

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McDonald’s USA ® Joins Forces with Elaine Welteroth & Fashion Industry Experts to Elevate Emerging Black Designers

To address underrepresentation of Black designers in the fashion industry, the Golden Arches will collectively grant $200K, provide industry mentorship and additional resources to help rising talent scale their brands and more

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CHICAGO /PRNewswire/ — McDonald’s USA is proud to introduce the Black & Positively Golden (B&PG) Change of Fashion, a game-changing program aimed at uplifting emerging Black fashion designers and equipping them with career-propelling mentorship, resources, and financial support that will accelerate their career trajectories.

Fashion
McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden Change of Fashion

Although Black designers have made a transformative impact in shaping fashion – from zoot suits in the 1930s to hip hop tracksuits of the 1980s, their representation in America stands at a mere 7.3%, hindered by systemic barriers and racial disparities.[1] This imbalance allows the fashion industry to profit from Black culture while neglecting to embrace Black talent. Recognizing this disparity, McDonald’s USA, a brand embraced by streetwear icons and renowned designers, has launched the B&PG Change of Fashion program to advocate for industry-wide change.

McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden Change of Fashion

Building on the brand’s annual B&PG Change Leaders program, McDonald’s B&PG Change of Fashion program pairs five emerging Black designers with five Black industry experts to complete a year-long mentorship filled with access to valuable resources, education and national exposure to industry experts that will culminate with the launch of a capsule collection.

“Having navigated the fashion industry as a Black woman, I understand first-hand the challenges around Black designers breaking through and sustaining a profitable business,” said media personality and television host Elaine Welteroth. “Partnering with a global brand like McDonald’s, I am honored to leverage my experiences as a fashion editor to mentor the next generation of designers and to ultimately help foster more inclusivity in an industry that thrives on Black culture.”

Through the B&PG Change of Fashion program, the Golden Arches and its Owner/Operators will grant funds to each designer, totaling $200,000 overall, offer one-on-one mentorship sessions, provide access to expert-led masterclasses and more. Change of Fashion Designers are featured in a national television commercial alongside their mentors, which include author and television host Elaine Welteroth, Matte Collection CEO Justina McKee, retail executive Shawn Howell, Laquan Smith COO Jacqueline Cooper, and Founder of luxury concept retail stores, McMullen, and Founder & CEO, Sherri McMullen.

“For decades, McDonald’s has leveraged its size and scale to invest in and support the diverse communities we serve,” said Tariq Hassan, Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at McDonald’s. “The Change of Fashion program builds on that legacy, pushing new boundaries in an effort to inspire real change, not only for our five designers, but for the fashion industry at large.”

MEET THE DESIGNERS

  • Durrell Dupard, New Orleans, LA, Founder of Freddie Estelle | Inspired by streetwear, Durrell began creating custom 1-of-1 designs for close friends at 15 years old. Freddie Estelle specializes in merging streetwear trends and upcycling to create unique custom designs. 
  • Shareef Mosby, Richmond, VA, CEO of VICTIM15 |Motivated by personal adversities and a challenging upbringing, Mosby has molded his brand to transmute traditional, utilitarian fabrics and silhouettes into urban-chic, contemporary ensembles juxtaposed against traditional artistic backdrops.
  • Larissa Muehleder New York, NY, Founder of Muehleder | Muehleder isn’t just a brand—it’s a testament to the boundless possibilities that await those who dare to dream, to create, and to defy their insecurities and self-doubt. With each design, she continues to write her story and find a piece of herself in everyone. 
  • Heart Roberts, Brooklyn, NY, Founder of HEARTHROB | Their passion for denim and leather knows no bounds, particularly in the art of manipulation and distressing. Enter the realm of HEARTHROB, where sustainability intertwines seamlessly with high fashion, forging a path toward a more conscious and stylish future. 
  • Nia Thomas, New York, NY, Founder of Nia Thomas | Nia started a clothing line producing limited-edition garments and original jewelry inspired by inward discovery nourished by her worldly travels. Today, Nia is a luxe lifestyle brand with handcrafted pieces for people who own their power, sensuality, and capacity for love.

Change of Fashion designers were carefully chosen by a selection committee. To learn more about each designer, please click here. 

Since commencing in 2022 under the McDonald’s B&PG Futures 22 platform, the B&PG Change Leaders program has provided Black thought leaders nationwide with tools, resources, and more than $600K in funding. The McDonald’s B&PG Change of Fashion program is just one of the many ways the company is serving up bright futures in the communities it serves. For more than 65 years, McDonald’s and its Owner/Operators have fed and fostered the Black community by awarding scholarships to HBCU students, creating impactful partnerships with community organizations like the National Urban League, NAACP, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and more.

Fans can follow the designers’ journeys and explore the meaningful impact of Black fashion in an industry seeking greater diversity by visiting changeoffashion.com or @wearegolden on Instagram.

About McDonald’s USA
McDonald’s USA, LLC, serves a variety of menu options made with quality ingredients to millions of customers every day. Ninety-five percent of McDonald’s approximately 13,500 U.S. restaurants are owned and operated by independent business owners. For more information, visit www.mcdonalds.com, or follow us on Twitter @McDonalds and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mcdonalds

Reference
Fashion Designer Demographics and Statistics [2021]: Number of Fashion Designers in the US (zippia.com)

SOURCE McDonald’s USA

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Fighting Food Insecurity Across the Country

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fighting food insecurity

(Family Features) To help fight food insecurity in America, Whirlpool Corp., in collaboration with meal kit company HelloFresh and logistics firm TQL, is expanding the “Feel Good Fridge” program to an additional 13 U.S. markets. Launched in 2021, the program provides refurbished refrigerators to food pantries and nonprofit organizations across the county to deliver free, fresh food for anyone in need with a target of placing 3,000 refrigerators by 2030. Find more information at whirlpoolcorp.com/feel-good-fridge.


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