American Airlines Donates 25,000 Meals To Local Communities

American Airlines has stepped up to help local communities this month. With fewer meals being served onboard aircraft and in lounges, the airline has partnered with the Let’s Empower Employment (LEE) initiative to provide meals for restaurant workers who are currently facing limited hours or no work due to business closures. All in all, American donated 25,000 meals to this initiative in Chicago and Washington D.C.

American Airlines
Due to the surplus of inflight food, American is able to donate meals to local foundations. Photo: Getty Images

Food donation program

For many in the United States and around the world, the coronavirus pandemic is turning into a significant economic crunch in addition to wreaking havoc on healthcare systems. Restaurants are closed or else operating on limited hours, putting a strain on workers.

The LEE Initiative is running a Restaurant Workers Relief Program through which restaurant workers can pick up meals and take them home. American Airlines has a surplus of food. Rather than let it go to waste, the airline donated the meals in Chicago and Washington D.C.

American food donation
Over 25,000 meals were donated. Photo: American Airlines

Ron DeFeo, Senior Vice President of Global Engagement at American Airlines, had the following to say:

Communities across the country have seen a rise in need for meals, and we had a surplus of food due to the decreased demands for air travel. The LEE Initiative is a great example of working within communities and nonprofits in a unique way to help provide what they need in an unprecedented time.

Those helping distribute these meals wore gloves and masks and sealed off the meals in tins. Those who collected meals stood outside the facility and followed practices of social distancing designed to reduce the spread of the virus.

The meals were distributed in closed tins and plastic bags. Photo: American Airlines

Other food donations

All in all, American has donated more than a staggering 200,000 pounds of food to local organizations like food banks, hospitals, and nonprofits since this crisis began. Most of the food is inflight dining services. Onboard, American has joined the ranks of other carriers in cutting back service to minimize interactions where the virus may spread.

Inflight emals
Much of the food is surplus from inflight services. Photo: American Airlines

Here are some other statistics:

  • 63,000 meals were donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository
  • 26,000 meals went to St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix
  • 4,000 pounds of fresh produce went to Equal Heart in Dallas
  • 2,900 pounds of food items went to Minnie’s Food Pantry in Dallas
  • 10,000 food items were donated to the Tarrant Area Food Bank in Fort Worth, Texas
  • $10,000 worth of perishable goods went to three local organizations in the North Texas region

Dallas is American’s largest hub, and, as a result, it makes sense that some of the most substantial donations are coming from the Dallas-area.

Some of the donated food items also include produce. Photo: American Airlines


The tourist and travel industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. American Airlines and restaurants are in a similar state of affairs with limited business. In a nice bit of good news amid a downturn in aviation that has put pressure on airlines, forced bailouts, and left many unsure about travel plans, it is nice to see an airline stepping up to help out.

Handing out to restaurant worker
The to-go meals were for restaurant workers who are facing hard times. Photo: American Airlines

Recently, American also extended status for loyalty members and reduced thresholds for qualification so that, when traveling does resume, passengers can have an easier quest hitting status or upgrading to a higher tier.

American Airlines Dallas
American has made several gestures of goodwill to its elite members. Photo: Getty Images

American also has a good relationship with chefs. The airline recently partnered with Chef Sarah Grueneberg to roll out new menu options on the ground and in the sky. Both Chef Sarah and Chef Edward Lee, the Mentor and Director of Programming at the LEE initiative, are James Beard Foundation award winners.

What do you think of American Airlines donating meals to restaurant workers? Let us know in the comments!