For Little Caesars employee Lisa Ruthven, operating the Little Caesars Love Kitchen is not just about giving back to the community, but also a way to honor her father’s legacy of feeding the homeless and supporting those struggling with hardships.
In 2013, Lisa’s family was dealing with their own struggles when her father, Doug Ruthven, passed away at age 59. Doug, who had managed the Little Caesars Love Kitchen as it crisscrossed the United States for 21 years, left behind many memories for those who knew him best.
“It’s so fun to hear the stories now,” Lisa said, “of all the great times that my dad had with friends he made, Little Caesars franchisees across the country and the people he served.”
Doug was the glue that held the program together, and today it’s his daughter who coordinates the Love Kitchen and the program’s two trucks as they serve those in need across the country.
“It’s incredible, with so many people who are struggling, just to see their faces and their smiles, Lisa said. “To know that a company as large as Little Caesars is giving back to those who are struggling, it really brightens up their day.”
Founded in 1985, the Little Caesars Love Kitchen, a mobile 18-wheel truck, partners with local food pantries and community organizations, traveling town-to-town to serve hot pizza to those in need at no cost. Since its inception, nearly 3.5 million people have been served, including more than 100,000 people in 2018 alone.
In addition to supporting the hungry and homeless, the Love Kitchen has provided relief to hundreds of thousands of victims and rescue workers of disasters, such as wildfires in California, multiple hurricanes, including Katrina and Harvey, as well as the 2001 World Trade Center Attack and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. In 2018, the Love Kitchen completed a serving nearly every day of the year.
The Little Caesars Love Kitchen has been recognized for its charitable efforts, receiving multiple presidential citations from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. In addition, the Love Kitchen has received a certificate of appreciation from the State of Michigan, and was recognized by the Detroit City Council for its efforts in the Gulf Coast region, as well as countless local recognitions across the United States.
Little Caesars now has two full-size semi-trucks in operation to serve the continental U.S. from coast to coast. Franchise owners and company stores graciously donate the food and provide the volunteers necessary to make each Love Kitchen serving a success. An estimated 50,000 franchisees, their employees and corporate colleagues have volunteered over the years to support the program in their local communities.
Little Caesars Love Kitchen will return to its hometown of Detroit in February 2020, when it will partner with Mitch Albom’s SAY Detroit, Michigan Veteran’s Foundation, Detroit Rescue Ministries and soup kitchens throughout the city to support those in need.
To learn more, you can visit https://littlecaesars.com/en-us/giving-back/love-kitchen/.