2020: A Year of Giving Back


There’s really no other way to put it; 2020 has been a trying year for all — a year of uncertainty, social upheaval, and unprecedented change in how we live our daily lives. Our friends, families and communities have all been affected in some way. While we could go on and on about the challenges of this year, we’d like to reflect on a few of the positives.

Giving back has always been a part of the OTTO culture. In the past, we’ve donated to countless organizations in our communities through fundraisers, in-kind donations, and of course, pizza. The nature of this year forced us to restructure our entire giving program. With schools closed for much of the year and fundraisers canceled due to gathering restrictions, we had to rethink our entire Good Food, Good Cause initiative.

Of course, we had no plans to stop giving back to our communities. More than ever, our communities needed our help. Fortunately, we were able to partner with two amazing organizations in Maine and Massachusetts that directly align with our mission – to end child hunger and provide better access to food in the communities we do business in, and beyond. Starting in March of 2020, we began donating $1 from every monthly special pie sold to these organizations.

In Massachusetts, we partnered with Cooking Matters MA – an organization which helps connect families with affordable and nutritious meal options. “Cooking Matters is helping end childhood hunger by inspiring families to make healthy, affordable food choices. [Their] programs teach parents and caregivers with limited food budgets to shop for and cook healthy meals.” $1 of each monthly special pie sold from our Massachusetts locations goes to Cooking Matters MA. This year, we have donated over $7,000 directly to the organization.

In Maine, we’re working with Full Plates Full Potential as one of their FEED Kids partners. Full Plates, Full Potential is an organization dedicated to ending child hunger in Maine. “[Their] work focuses on increasing participation in school breakfast, after school meals, and summer meal programs.” We’ve donated $1 of each monthly special sold from our Maine locations to Full Plates Full Potential since March. This has allowed us to donate over $8,000 directly to the organization.

Another group that’s been severely strained by this pandemic is healthcare workers. They have gone through extraordinary efforts to heal and protect their patients and our communities, working tirelessly around the clock dealing with scenarios that many of us cannot imagine. In April, we decided to get on board with an initiative called Feeding the Frontline – a donation-based framework that supports both restaurants and frontline workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Through purchasing gift cards or meals from participating businesses, those working on the frontlines are provided with nourishment to help fuel them through their shifts.

We had no idea what to expect at the start, but we quickly learned that our customers enthusiastically wanted to be a part of this effort. To date, we’ve received over $40,000 in customer contributions that we’ve turned into countless orders, feeding thousands of healthcare workers and first responders. We are both amazed and extremely humbled by the support we’ve received, and can tell you first hand how appreciative our healthcare heroes have been to benefit from this program. Below are a few of the facilities we’ve made deliveries to as a part of this initiative:

  • Maine Medical Center
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • South Portland Fire Department – First Responders
  • Tufts Medical Center
  • Maine General Hospital
  • Lynnfield Fire Department – First Responders
  • Anna Jacques Hospital
  • Boston Medical Center
  • Beverly Hospital
  • Melrose Wakefield Hospital
  • Franciscan Hospital – Brighton
  • Maine’s Midcoast Hospital
  • Mount Auburn Hospital
  • Emerson Hospital
  • Lahey Hospital & Medical Center

With all of that said, we have to give a big shout out to our customers. The programs and initiatives above would not be possible without your support. While many of us have spent much of the year in relative isolation, the power of community has never been more evident. As we reflect on this difficult year, we are incredibly thankful for our staff, our customers, our partners and our communities. We wish each of you a healthy and happy holiday season, and look forward to seeing your smiling faces in the new year.

Update: Feeding the Frontline Workers

We cannot thank our customers, communities and folks who have supported this initiative enough. This campaign has been a great demonstration on how communities hold each other up and work together during uncertain times.

Through the support of our OTTO community, we’ve provided:

  • Meals to over 50 frontline facilities
  • Thousands of pizzas delivered
  • Over $40,000 in food and beverages
  • Nourishment for hundreds of frontline workers including hospital employees, community health center employees, first responders, and homeless/teen center staff to name a few

If you’re interested in supporting our Feeding the Frontline campaign, click here to contribute. We’ve also added a contribution option to our online ordering pages. You can now order a meal and contribute to Feed the Frontline in the same transaction!

Please note: From time to time, we run into a situation where a hospital or healthcare facility is unable to accept a donation. In those circumstances, we direct food donations to other facilities being impacted by COVID-19, such as homeless shelters and food banks.

Helping OTTO Feed Frontline Workers

When a customer called Penguin Pizza in Boston and ordered pizzas to be delivered to frontline healthcare workers at a nearby hospital, it sparked an idea – we can support local businesses and feed critical frontline workers through one initiative.

Feeding the Frontline is a donation-based framework that supports both restaurants and frontline workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Through purchasing gift cards or meals from participating businesses, those working tirelessly on the frontline are provided with nourishment to help fuel them through their shifts.

On April 4th, we launched a Feeding the Frontline campaign at OTTO. Here’s how it works:

  • Customers can support by contributing at ottoportland.com/shop
  • Our team reaches out to various frontline facilities that are currently accepting donations within our communities
  • Using the contributions from our website, we create orders to fit the specific needs of each facility
  • Deliveries and pickups are coordinated by our team, with the safety of all parties involved as our top priority
  • Contributors receive an email after their donation has been put to work
Resident physicians enjoying one of our first Feed the Frontline orders at BIDMC

We’ve had an extremely positive response from our community, and are happy to say we’ve already fulfilled several orders. The healthcare workers and first responders who have received orders could not be more appreciative.

We cannot thank our contributors enough for helping us make this possible, and promise to continue working hard to feed the frontline workers in our communities.

To contribute, please go to our website or feel free to reach out to us at contactus@ottoportland.com.