Boots-on-the-ground: Maui’s runaway fires and Texas mall shooting at the heart of FAT Brands Foundation’s first year of giving

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Drought, dry, gusty conditions caused a series of wildfires to break out in the US state of Hawaii, prompting evacuations, causing widespread damage and killing more than 100 people. Pic: GettyImages/Stocktrek Images
Drought, dry, gusty conditions caused a series of wildfires to break out in the US state of Hawaii, prompting evacuations, causing widespread damage and killing more than 100 people. Pic: GettyImages/Stocktrek Images

Related tags FAT Brands Foundation 501(c)(3) nonprofit Great American Cookies Prezelmaker pizza chains food insecurity youth development military veterans underprivileged children Education

While the global franchise company’s 18-brand portfolio – including cookie cake delivery service Great American Cookies and handmade pretzel QSR Pretzelmaker – is deeply rooted in charitable initiatives both locally and nationally, the Foundation was created to magnify those efforts.

FAT Brands currently owns 18 restaurant brands, including Great American Cookies, Pretzelmaker, Johnny Rockets, Round Table Pizza, Marble Slab Creamery and others – which punch in with over 2,300 units worldwide.

Founded in 2022 to uplift and unite the communities in which FAT Brands operates, the 501(c)(3) organization awarded over $250k in grants in its first year of giving.

The funds supported 43 local nonprofits across 19 states and Washington D.C. – all within a 25 mile radius of FAT Brands’ restaurants – that stand behind causes like food insecurity, health, education, youth development, military veterans and the arts.

The impact was widespread:

  • Over 25,000 meals to individuals facing food insecurity
  • Behavioral health training for 50 restaurant managers and owners
  • 6 education-related scholarships
  • School supplies packing over 4,000 backpacks for underprivileged children
  • Job training for individuals with disabilities and life barriers
  • 180 vision screenings and over 50 pairs of glasses to students in Los Angeles County.

Notably, the Beverly Hills-based Foundation supported organizations tied to the fires in Hawaii and the Allan mall shooting by extremist Mauricio Martinez Garcia, who killed eight people, including a 3-year-old, and wounded seven others.

FAT Brands Foundation
Pic: FAT Brands Foundation

“We are proud of not only getting the Foundation off the ground in 2023, but also doubling down on our commitment to serve by providing funding and physical volunteers for boots-on-the-ground work in various FAT Brands’ communities,” said Jessica Wiederhorn, president of FAT Brands Foundation.

“This year was just the beginning and we have built a strong framework.”

Last year, focus was firmly placed on informing communities about its aspirations. By the end of 2023, approximately 66% of applicants that met the submission criteria and aligned with the Foundation’s mission were awarded a grant, averaging around $6k each.

A new focus in 2024 will be surround fundraising organizations interested in donating are  invited to get in touch.

“FAT Brands has generously donated the bulk of our grant funding, but we are looking to our partners, vendors and community to help us make an even greater impact in 2024,” said Wiederhorn.

Nonprofits are also invited to apply for a grant in 2024.

 “Our greatest joy is being able to contribute to a wide range of charitable organizations located in the immediate communities of FAT Brands restaurants.”

“We will continue this activity in 2024 and look forward to raising additional funding to support our work.”

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