Fast-food chain Chick-fil-A is addressing its controversial issues. The company has announced it will no longer support organizations accused of anti-LGBTQ sentiment. Chick-fil-A has received high-profile criticism for where its charitable contributions go.
Back in September, when the U.S. chicken fast-food giant opened its first location in Toronto, it drew long line-ups of curious and enthusiastic customers.
However, it also attracted protesters fighting against what they perceived as an anti-LGBTQ stance.
In a news release sent out on November 18, the Chick-fil-A Foundation said it would be focusing on supporting the areas of hunger, education, and homelessness. The foundation has committed $9 million in 2020 to these initiatives.
The news release itself doesn't mention a specific move away from the organizations that have been the source of the criticism.
However, company president and COO Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow the foundation would no longer be supporting The Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and other groups it had dealt with in the past.
"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Tassopoulos said.
"There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."
The Salvation Army responded through a statement of its own, which read, in part: "We serve more than 23 million individuals a year, including those in the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, we believe we are the largest provider of poverty relief to the LGBTQ+ population."
"When misinformation is perpetuated without fact, our ability to serve those in need, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or any other factor, is at risk. We urge the public to seek the truth before rushing to ill-informed judgment and greatly appreciate those partners and donors who ensure that anyone who needs our help feels safe and comfortable to come through our doors."
Toronto isn't the only city where the company has faced pushback. In fact, contracts for concession stands in San Jose, Buffalo, and San Antonio were cancelled in 2019.
Soofia Mahmood of the Toronto-based LGBTQ support group The 519, which protested at Chick-fil-A's opening, told The Toronto Star she considers this a "small victory".
She said the franchise has claimed to distance itself from anti-LGBTQ groups in the past, but continued to fund them.
And because it's 2019, the news created a whole lot of reaction online.
A few people gave the company some credit for the move.
But there are many people who called out the company for pandering to the LGBTQ movement or just straight up "selling out."
Others noted they feel they have heard this story before, and nothing changed.
Who knew that fried chicken could be such a political issue?
The controversy doesn't seem to be hurting Chick-fil-A's business, as the location on Yonge Street is still very busy.*
The second Toronto location is set to open in 2020.
*This article has been updated.