Chop’t going pink for breast cancer awareness

October 14, 2012

Two weeks into October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the color pink is showing up in some novel places. NFL players are wearing it, cereal boxes display it, and the hue has even found its way onto salad bowls.

Chop’t, the salad company based in New York City with eight locations in the Washington region, turned its bowls pink and will donate $2 from each order of a new salad, Pink Goddess, to Ralph Lauren’s Pink Pony Foundation, which funds various breast cancer organizations.

Executives are hoping to raise $30,000 by the end of the month, including a matching donation from the company. In its first two weeks, the company raised about $14,000.

A growing number of businesses are aligning their philanthropy programs with their business mission, and efforts to eradicate breast cancer have been a chief beneficiary.

“We have more women executives in this region than any other region in the country and a strong majority of women in the workplace,” said Jim Dinegar, president and chief executive of the Greater Washington Board of Trade. “For the health and long life of our workforce it’s an enlightened self-interest for many businesses.”

Tony Shure, who co-founded Chop’t 12 years ago, said that the salad restaurant started giving to child wellness programs in 2010 after an inspirational event at the White House where First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to celebrity chefs about nutrition initiatives for youth.

Since then the company has given $80,000 to school health programs and other charitable causes.

Earlier this year, during Chop’t’s regular “ideation” meetings, Shure and his team began thinking about breast cancer. “I wanted to try to find something that was meaningful to people,” Shure said. “Everyone’s family has been touched by cancer. It’s a universal thing.”

When he saw October approaching, he commissioned the food and beverage team to start designing a new salad for the menu as part of the campaign. After a few experiments offered at its internal weekly tasting, one salad — which they named the Pink Goddess — beat the rest. Ingredients include grilled chicken, avocado, black beans, pickled red onions, Cotija cheese and romaine and mesclun lettuce.

In the meantime, the team worked with its West Coast plastic company, Bottle Box, to make pink bowls.

Michael Caine, manager at Chop’t’s Pennsylvania Avenue location, which sees about 1,000 people each day, said that he feels the campaign is making a difference.

“My first customer on the first day happened to be an oncologist,” Caine said. “When she walked in she immediately knew that we were part of the cause. . . . It’s good to know that our customers know that we’re not just talking about it but that we were raising awareness.”

Vanessa Small covers philanthropy and nonprofits for Capital Business. She also spotlights newly appointed executives in the New at the Top column, which chronicles their journeys to the top. Small was raised in Orange County, Ca. and graduated from Howard University.
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