On the Menu: Chinese Restaurant Funds Cancer Research

Pop quiz: What do thyme, mushrooms, blueberries, and the Chinese herb huang gin have in common? Stumped? I don’t blame you.

Turns out the Panda Charitable Foundation has just gifted City of Hope $2.5 million to establish a research program centered on finding better cancer cures. And the three projects receiving the funding are looking at thyme, blueberries, mushrooms, and huang gin.

If you’re not familiar, the Panda Charitable Foundation is the charitable arm of the Panda Restaurant Group—y’know, Panda Express?—and let’s just say that its native culture has a big influence on their giving. Or at least it did.

Since 2007, the foundation seems to have shifted its focus away from Asian cultural initiatives and toward broader community support programs located in southern California. And it’s been giving big to children’s hospitals from the very beginning. It gave Children’s Hospital Los Angeles $100K in 2006, and again in 2007. It’s been giving to City of Hope—a top cancer center—for years, as well, honoring the organization with a $100K gift in 2007, 2008, and 2009.

Now, as the Panda Charitable Foundation moves into making less frequent, more specific gifts, it continues its relationship with the cancer hospital, this time encouraging researchers to look at more natural cures and treatments for cancer.

“City of Hope’s credo is, ‘There is no profit in curing the body if in the process we destroy the soul,’ and this new program reflects that commitment to the whole patient,” said City of Hope President and Chief Executive Robert Stone. “Our researchers and physicians understand our patients’ need for better cancer-fighting therapies with fewer side effects, and we’re grateful to the Panda Charitable Foundation for helping us develop those therapies.”  

We can’t help the images of a Chinese restaurant menu board floating through our heads as we contemplate funding for a slew of food-based cancer treatments, offered by a Chinese restaurant's charitable foundation. Mushrooms? Huang gin? What’s next, Happy Family Chemotherapy Special?

Maybe Panda’s giving initiatives are as culturally-centered as ever.