One small gesture has helped change the course of an entire community. Nearly 30 Asheville-area hotels have raised over $30,000 to help end hunger in Western North Carolina through an unprecedented campaign effort called Sweet Dreams, Full Plates: Hospitality Feeds Families.
All funds will be donated to the local non-profit MANNA FoodBank, who will be able use the funds to distribute over 100,000 meals to families in need across Western North Carolina.
“The success of this inaugural campaign is heartwarming and serves as a case in point for the power of collaborative impact,” said Alisa Hixson, Director of Corporate Engagement and Signature Events for MANNA FoodBank. “The hotels did a phenomenal job and so did their guests.”
The concept was simple, but the results are truly life-changing.
Hotel guests during September were given the opportunity to forgo stayover services by simply hanging a door hanger on their room door. The door hanger says, “We Fed A Family,” and for every room that choose to participate, the hotel made a $2 donation on their behalf. With each $2 donation, MANNA FoodBank is able to provide enough food for seven meals.
“Our goal was to bring the hospitality industry together to make a greater impact in the community,” said Robert Foster, Biltmore Farms Director of Hotel Operations and General Manager, DoubleTree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore. “We not only did that, but surpassed our initial goal and made this a win-win for everyone involved. We are amazed by the individual hotel stories of employees and guests who gladly participated in numerous ways to make our first year of Sweet Dreams, Full Plates a success.”
Boosting excitement, participating hotels competed internally for who could raise the most money during the month.
Crowne Plaza Resort Asheville took home the Golden Pineapple Award for most overall funds raised. Residence Inn Biltmore won for most revenue per available room and was awarded the the Dream Team Award.
Participants hope to not only make this an annual program, but to inspire hospitality-based charity efforts across the nation.
What makes the program so unique, hoteliers say, is the area-wide collaboration of businesses, guests, and the community to achieve a common goal – a true testament of Southern hospitality.
“Our guests have been great, they love the idea of helping out…some even offered additional donations, some wanted more information about MANNA to take home and learn more about to see what they could do locally in their neighborhoods,” said Grant Fairchild, General Manager of Country Inn & Suites.
Coinciding with National Hunger Month, the inaugural campaign aimed to connect the Asheville metro area’s thriving tourism industry to local hunger relief issues.
“This program seems to have upended the notion that at least for visitors to Asheville, understanding the whole picture of a community is not counterproductive to a fulfilling vacation,” Hixson said.
Many may be surprised that hidden within the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains exists a harsh reality: 1 in 6 people and 1 in 4 children in WNC don’t know where their next meal will come from.
The majority of families who reach out to MANNA’s network throughout the year are facing a unique “socio-economic storm” of factors in WNC, Hixson said.
The Asheville area is the most expensive housing in not just the state, but the tristate area, outpacing even Atlanta in housing costs.
With a distinct lack of affordable housing, in the last year alone, MANNA FoodBank has seen a huge increase in the number of working families that are struggling to make ends meet, forced to make hard choices about how to spend their very limited resources.
“(We) were asked to spread the light and warmth of hospitality to the world,” said Kori Fulgham, of Homewood Suites. “We proudly spread that light with the Sweet Dreams, Full Plates program. It was our duty to our community.”
A duty that now an entire community that can proudly say “We Fed a Family.”
For more information on Sweet Dreams, Clean Plates: Hospitality Feeding Families visit http://sweetdreamsfullplates.org.
About MANNA FoodBank
MANNA FoodBank is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving Western North Carolina since 1983. As an accredited member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization, the mission of MANNA FoodBank is to involve, educate, and unite people in the work of ending hunger in Western North Carolina. MANNA serves over 200 community-based non-profit food assistance partner agencies in 16 Western North Carolina counties and distributed 16.4 million pounds of food in 2016. For more information, visit MANNAFoodBank.org, or call 828-299-FOOD.
About Feeding America
Feeding America is the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in communities across America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
Aloft Asheville Downtown
Comfort Suites Outlet Center
Country Inn & Suites
Country Inn and Suites By Carlson, Asheville Westgate
Crowne Plaza Tennis and Golf Resort – Asheville
Days Inn – Biltmore East
Doubletree by Hilton Asheville – Biltmore
Four Points by Sheraton – Asheville Downtown
Hampton Inn Asheville I-26 Biltmore Area
Hampton Inn – Tunnel Road
Hampton Inn & Suites Asheville – Biltmore Village
Hampton Inn & Suites – I-26 Asheville
Haywood Park Hotel
Homewood Suites by Hilton Asheville
Haywood Park Hotel
Hilton Asheville Biltmore Park
Hilton Garden Inn – Asheville Downtown
Holiday Inn – Biltmore West
Holiday Inn Express & Suites
Hotel Indigo – Asheville Downtown
Hyatt Place Asheville Downtown
Quality Inn & Suites – Biltmore East
Renaissance Asheville Hotel
Residence Inn Biltmore
THE WINDSOR – Boutique Hotel
Springhill Suites Marriott