Operation Feeding Freedom

Soldiers line up at the Luxemburg Dining Facility on Kandahar Airfield (KAF) to enjoy food from Outback Steakhouse, September 11, 2011. All photos in this post by me.

Nine years ago, an idea was hatched at Outback headquarters to send meals to troops in combat, starting with Afghanistan in 2002.

Outback co-founder, Trudy Cooper, told me that it was a natural thing to do since their headquarters is so close to MacDill Air Force Base.

“We already serve meals to our military, how hard could it be to take them meals where they fight?” she asked.

And that’s just what they did. Outback actually drove their catering truck into the back of a C-17 and flew it to Afghanistan in what they called Operation Feeding Freedom. Since that day, OSI Restaurant Partners, LLC (which includes Outback Steakhouse, Carraba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, and Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine), has traveled every year to feed the troops abroad. And they do it without publicizing their efforts.

“We love our military,” Cooper said soon after her and her staff taking meals to wounded troops here on KAF.

In all, Outback and their partners brought 31 employees who all volunteered to travel to one of the most dangerous places in the War on Terror to serve meals to troops serving their country. It’s the most they’ve sent to date. To punctuate that fact, employees were present for two separate indirect fire attacks against the FOB today.

This year, Outback brought 40,000 meals to feed the troops, beginning in Manas, Kygyzstan then traveling to FOBs around Afghanistan. Usually, their efforts take place in October, but Cooper told me they pushed it up this year to thank troops on the 10th anniversary of the reason they are here to begin with.

Troops packed each and every dining facility to enjoy a taste of home. The menu included Bloomin’ Onions, Calamari, Boule Bread with Herbs and Olive Oil, Cavatappi Amatriciana, Chargrilled Steaks, Ravioli and REAL Cheesecake for dessert.

“It’s been SO long since I’ve had cheesecake this good,” one Canadian Soldier told me.

Soldiers could be seen slowly savoring the taste of thick, charcoal-grilled steaks, creamy slices of cheesecake, and pieces of Bloomin’ Onions.

“This is the real deal,” said PFC Morris from the 82nd Airborne Division. “Not like those thin, dry steaks they usually serve us every now and then.”

OSI doesn’t publicize the Operation Feeding Freedom program because they don’t do it for publicity. They do it for their love of troops. And they definitely showed it today by taking the time to not only serve the troops, but stop and talk with them.

Bonefish Grill employee, Jessie Gour, stops to talk with Army Majors “Jack” Berry, Josh Bradley, and Anthony Barbina after bringing their table some Bloomin’ Onions.

Here are some pictures from just one of those dining facilities.

Click on images for larger view and please take the time to let Outback Steakhouse know you also appreciate what they do for our troops by contacting them here.

15 Comments on “Operation Feeding Freedom

  1. Right on Outback. Your company is remembering the troops who are protectecting us. Outback is a great American company.

  2. Right on Outback for remembering the men who are protecting us. You are a great company.

  3. Thanks Outback for the wonderful gift of food and love of our troops. We love our Outback in NMB, SC.

  4. This is AWESOME and I not only congratulate you and your partners in this endeavor, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’ve had in the past a brother and a brother-in-law both serving, but both are out of the service now. I cannot, in any way, BEGIN to thank all our military for serving the way they do. They are self-less, caring and brave beyond my understanding, and my gratitude goes far deeper than I could ever afford to show.

    Thank you for speaking out this way, through your delicious food, and giving them some of what they deserve.

    May God bless you all richly and endlessly!

  5. Thanks for letting us know who really cares about the Troops. I believe I’ll be spending a little time and money at Outbacks.

  6. Comment: Great piece CJ, thanks for letting us know who cares for the troops and where to spend our money.

  7. nothing better than a good meal from home! i’ll remember this awesomness from Outback when i go out to eat. now i’m craving the bloomin onions 🙂

  8. Thank you, for supporting our troops. They deserve our Respect for protecting us and standing for freedom in the US. May God’s blessings be showered down on you and your families as you honor our troops for letting the love of God flow thru you to each of them.

    Sincerely, Sandy B.

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  12. Thank you for sharing this story. I will make sure that all my friends read it.
    And I will certainly let Outback know how much I value their efforts.
    Thanks again.

  13. Wonderful and Thank You Outback et al AND Every Soldier no matter where you are! You can be sure that we will make sure we make the 40 mile drive to the location of Ourback every chance we get so they can continue their love towards the military!

  14. Thank you for this. It’s a warm and uplifting story, on this day.

    God Bless and protect all who serve. Thank you to all who served them.

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