Olive Garden’s unlimited pasta pass has come and gone, but some are still feeling its effects.
As a casual Olive Garden customer, Matt Tribe of Ogden, Utah, purchased the pass, which gave the owner unlimited pasta from Sept. 22 through Nov. 9, on a whim that turned into something else much more meaningful.
“I thought it would be cool to share with other people. Everything in the world is so negative, and in my own life, if you’re having a hard time, just doing nice things you forget all about it and it brightens you up,” Tribe, 28, told ABC News. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to do random acts of pasta?’ When someone sends you food, nobody’s pissed! They’re always happy.”
That’s why Tribe started to get takeout from the national Italian chain twice a day and delivered it to his friends and family while documenting it on his website “Random Acts of Pasta.” After a while, though, Tribe realized the pass’ full potential.
“It was hard to find the homeless at night. But then I started finding some of their spots, and I chose a buddy of mine and he said, ‘Let’s go film this,” Tribe said. “So we spent a few afternoons just going after them and we gave it to them, and it was one of the neatest things ever.”
All in all, Tribe fed 10 homeless people linguine alfredo with chicken and salad from Olive Garden, which was not involved in Tribe’s project. He found the experience incredibly rewarding.
“The first lady I gave it to was like, ‘Are you serious?’ The first thing she said was, ‘I’m going to share this with my friend,’” he said. “I couldn’t believe it. It broke my heart that this lady has nothing and the first thing she says is she’s going to share with someone else. It changed my whole perspective.”
Olive Garden, while not actively promoting this kind of use of the pass, still supports Tribe's project.
"We applaud Matt for his generous use of the Pasta Pass, and we're proud to play a small part in his powerful story," an Olive Garden spokesperson told ABC News. "His actions align with our harvest program, which allowed our restaurants to donate more than 4.2 million meals to local food banks last year."
Tribe fed another 135 friends, family and strangers the same meal, and managed to eat from Olive Garden himself 14 times. He said he spent hundreds of hours going to Olive Garden twice daily and delivering the meals. He also put thousands of miles on his car driving around.
“The whole thing start to finish changed my outlook on life in several ways, but I think I got more out of this than anyone else who got pasta. I understand now why people devote their lives to serving others,” he said. “It’s hard to feel bad, sad or depressed when you’re helping other people. It helps a lot. I hope this translates into someone doing something nice for someone else.”