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Olive Garden Promotes Education In Local Communities Through Its 16th-Annual Pasta Tales Essay Writing Contest

ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Educators across the country are continually looking for ways to enhance education with limited budgets and resources. This year's Olive Garden Pasta Tales national essay writing contest invites students to share their ideas on how to meet that challenge and generally support education in their community.  

Beginning Monday, Nov. 21 and continuing through Sunday, Jan. 29, Olive Garden is asking writers in first through 12th-grade in the U.S. and Canada to submit an essay of 50 to 250 words answering the question: "If you were given $5,000 to support education in your local community, how would you use it and why? "  

The grand prize winner of Olive Garden's 16th-Annual Pasta Tales essay writing contest will receive a three-day trip to New York City that includes dinner at the Olive Garden in Times Square and a $2,500 savings bond. In addition, Olive Garden will provide a $5,000 grant to support education in the winner's local community, which will bring his/her essay to life. The winners in each grade category will be awarded a $500 savings bond and a family dinner at their local Olive Garden restaurant.

With its focus on education, this year's essay question aligns with Darden Restaurants' Recipe for Success™ initiative.  Darden is the parent company of Olive Garden.   Recipe for Success is designed to enable and empower youth to pave their own path to success by providing them access to the tools and information necessary to prepare for and navigate the process of postsecondary education.  The initiative also helps break down financial barriers by providing students with scholarships.  Just like Recipe for Success , the goal of the Pasta Tales contest is to help youth forge a path to success and help them realize their dreams through a thought-provoking and educational exercise.

Pasta Tales entry forms and complete rules are available on Olive Garden's website at http://www.olivegarden.com/About-Us/Community/Pasta-Tales/ and at local Olive Garden restaurants beginning Nov. 21.

All entries must include the writer's first and last name, complete address, phone number with area code, grade, date of birth including year and a statement that the work is his or her own.  Entries must be submitted either online or postmarked by January 29, 2012 and sent to Pasta Tales, PMB 2000, 6278 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308-1916.

Submissions will be judged based on creativity, adherence to theme, organization, grammar, punctuation and spelling by the Quill and Scroll Society of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Iowa, with winners selected by Olive Garden.

Olive Garden's Pasta Tales essay contest provides students in its local communities an outlet to creatively express the influences, experiences and stories that have shaped their lives. For more information about Olive Garden's Pasta Tales, contact Lauren Simo or Catie Jackson at (954) 776-1999 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST.

Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with more than 750 restaurants, more than 88,000 employees and more than $3 billion in annual sales.  Olive Garden is a division of Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI), the world’s largest full-service restaurant operating company.  In 2011, Darden became the first full-service restaurant company ever to be named to the FORTUNE “100 Best Companies to Work For” list.  Olive Garden is committed to making a difference in the lives of others in the local community. Olive Garden participates in the Darden Harvest program, which has donated more than 50 million pounds of food to local community food banks across the country.  For more information, visit Olive Garden’s website at www.olivegarden.com.

For more information on Recipe for Success please visit http://www.darden.com/commitment/community/recipe_for_success.asp.

SOURCE Olive Garden

Copyright 2011 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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