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A “Tidal Wave” of Change as UNO Pizzeria & Grill Revises its Corporate Drinking Straw Policy After Reading Essays from Fourth Grade Students

June 14, 2019

WALLINGFORD, PA – June 14, 2019 – A fourth grade class from Wallingford Elementary School recently demonstrated it doesn’t take big people - only big voices - to spark change. This was proven true as UNO Pizzeria & Grill changed its corporate drinking straw policy for all of its 100 restaurants after its CEO, Jim Ilaria, received personal and persuasive essays from various students and their teacher, Mrs. Susan Knight.

In hopes that executives would use their positions to bring about positive change for the environment (and just in time for National Ocean Month), the children delivered thoughtfully researched arguments to corporate leaders about the harm plastic causes to our ocean and its marine life, accompanied by requests to reduce the use of plastic straws.

Impressed, and in agreement with the fourth graders, Mr. Ilaria responded enthusiastically by immediately rolling out a new, companywide “by request only” drinking straw policy. Additionally, to celebrate the efforts of the students who share his concern for the environment, he planned a pizza party for the children like only UNO – inventor of deep-dish pizza – can. The UNO restaurant that organized the special pizza delivery is a franchise location in the nearby city of Chester.

“I was impressed by the logic of their arguments and how they appealed to both my heart and my business mind,” said Mr. Ilaria. “As an avid SCUBA diver who has seen the plastic debris in our ocean and as a former member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I understand and appreciate the importance of source reduction, recycling and waste minimization. I am proud that I have the ability to make this change and I’m excited to recognize the significant actions of these young students.”

"My students have been energized to make a positive change in this world, especially after learning about the damage caused by single-use plastic straws," said Mrs. Knight. "It has been such a joy to teach this passionate group of fourth graders, and I am so very grateful to UNO and Mr. Ilaria for recognizing their efforts by changing to a "request only" straw policy AND by hosting a pizza party. It just doesn’t get better than that for a bunch of remarkable ten year olds!"

The pizza party will be held in class on Friday, June 14th, where Mr. Ilaria will visit the students to personally thank them for their collective efforts in bringing about positive change.

About UNO Pizzeria & Grill

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Uno Restaurant Holdings Corporation includes 100 company-owned and franchised UNO Pizzeria & Grill restaurants located in 19 states, the District of Columbia, Honduras, Qatar, India, and Saudi Arabia. UNO's is all about the joy of sharing a handcrafted pizza – from our famous Chicago Deep Dish, which we invented in 1943, to our Chicago Thin Crust. The Company also operates Uno Dué Go, a fast-casual concept, Uno Express, a quick-service concept, and Uno Foods, a consumer packaged-foods business which supplies airlines, movie theaters, hotels, airports, travel plazas, schools, and supermarkets with both frozen and refrigerated private-label foods and UNO branded products. For more information, visit

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