Why you should care
Because you can help change the world, one sweet scoop at a time.
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If indulging in a sweet ice cream treat leaves you feeling guilty, we’ve got news for you: You likely haven’t visited the right shop. Sprinkled across the U.S., some ice cream parlors are dishing out more than just gelato. They’re also serving up social good.
In Dallas, for example, Howdy Homemade is dedicated to employing individuals with special needs. At Denver’s Little Man Ice Cream, the store donates a scoop of rice or beans to communities in need with each ice cream scoop purchased. They even host occasional “pint-for-pint” blood drives, where you get ice cream in exchange for donating blood.
Tom Landis, owner of Howdy Homemade, says the idea to create an ice cream shop that would provide a nurturing environment for employees with special needs came to him after a bout of reading. He had just finished the biography of retired NFL player Gene Stallings, Another Season: A Coach’s Story of Raising an Exceptional Son, in which Stallings wrote about the challenges his son, who has Down syndrome, faced every day.
“It just jumped out at me when I was reading his book: Let’s design an entire restaurant around helping people with special needs,” he says. Even though Landis previously operated two successful franchises of cheesesteak chain Texadelphia, he struggled to get funding for Howdy Homemade.
“It was a risky idea that investors weren’t willing to bet on,” he says. That’s until JPMorgan Chase & Co. jumped in with a $25,000 loan. Now, two and a half years later, 13 special-needs employees help run the shop.
It was a risky idea that investors weren’t willing to bet on.
Tom Landis, Howdy Handmade
Besides social good, the ice cream shop’s other claim to fame is its coveted Dr Pepper chocolate chip ice cream flavor, which accounts for 60 percent of the store’s sales.
Other ice cream parlors are serving up innovative ways to help end world hunger. Little Man Ice Cream has donated over 2 million scoops of rice and beans as part of its Scoop for Scoop program. The shop, which was founded in 2008, also has donated more than $100,000 to various global efforts, such as hunger relief, medical and dental care, and provided safe homes for victims of sex trafficking in Cambodia. The ice cream shop has hosted blood drives, gifting participants a pint of ice cream in exchange for donating a pint of blood. “As a community centerpiece, we celebrate the difference that everybody can make and want everyone to feel involved,” says Dominic DiCarlantonio, general manager of Little Man Ice Cream. “Anyone who has ever bought our ice cream has made an impact on those 2 million scoops.”
Meanwhile, in the past, Baskin-Robbins locations nationwide donate 11 cents of every scoop sold on Veterans Day to the United Service Organizations.
So next time you’re looking to kick back and enjoy a scoop, look for a local ice cream joint with a conscience, because practicing social good can taste good too.
This story has been updated since it was first published on May 25, 2017.