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‘Everyone eats’: Local Pizza Hut helps fill empty bellies

As part of the ‘Hut to Heart’ initiative, employees at Pizza Hut on Great Northern Road have been collecting donations and making upwards of 15 pizzas every day for homeless and vulnerable members of the community

Employees at Pizza Hut on Great Northern Road have lost count as to how many smiling faces they’ve seen walk out their door over the last few weeks.

Since late January, the chain restaurant has been providing free pizzas to homeless and vulnerable members of the community as part of their ‘Hut to Heart’ initiative.  

The store’s new owners Hardik and Himanshu Soni are overseeing the fundraiser at all eight of their Pizza Hut locations in Ontario. The Sault location is their only one in northern Ontario.

With the help of community donations, Pizza Hut has been averaging between 10 and 15 personally made pizzas every day for locals in need.

Store manager Mansi Goyal first applied to work for the store when she heard about the initiative’s start-up, and she has since been blown away by the feedback.

“We’re really loving the response the community is giving,” she said. “It’s been really positive. Lots of people have been coming for the donations which is really good.”

Mansi told SooToday that residents can refer someone they know who may be hungry, homeless, or unable to afford a meal to visit the store. The eatery will then provide them with a personal pizza at no cost.

Additionally, if customers can manage to pay for someone’s meal in advance, Pizza Hut will display the free meal at their counter, and anyone in need can claim it by visiting their location.

“Looking at some of their situations makes me sad; when people are outside in minus 15 and 20, it’s hard to survive,” Mansi said. “But the owners are really putting forward different initiatives and supporting the community. It’s been great to see.”

Pizza Hut’s team leader Chirag Patel has been working at the Great Northern Road joint for the past 10 months, and he noted the reactions from their clientele are “priceless.”

“Every time someone comes for the free pizza, they never expect to be getting a warm pizza or anything,” he said. “What they’re asking for is leftovers, but to give them something fresh is great. Everyone eats."

“You’ll hear them say, ‘Oh my gosh, you made my day’ – listening to that you just feel so proud to serve them,” Mansi added. “Their expressions are the best thing you’ll ever see.”

Hut to Heart is halfway through its 60-day run, and a minimum of 600 pizzas will be cooked fresh for the vulnerable during that time.

“If the community gives a positive response, we may continue beyond the end of March as well,” Mansi said. “All this is happening with the donations of the people. We’re really thankful for the people who are supporting us. It’s not just us doing this, it’s the community.”

Homeless and vulnerable members of the community can visit Pizza Hut on Great Northern Road anytime during regular store hours and be eligible to redeem a pizza.

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Alex Flood

About the Author: Alex Flood

Alex is a recent graduate from the College of Sports Media where he discovered his passion for reporting and broadcasting
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