Asheville, NC—Next month, 29 Asheville-area hotels will embark on a month-long collaboration to help feed thousands of families who face hunger every day across Western North Carolina. Sweet Dreams, Full Plates: Hospitality Feeds Families will take place throughout the entire month of September, coinciding with national Hunger Action Month. As part of the initiative, local hotels will compete with each other to see which hotel can raise the most money to benefit MANNA FoodBank.
MANNA FoodBank says that one in six people and one in four children in the area 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 socioeconomic storm of factors in Western North Carolina (WNC), the organization says. The Asheville area is the most expensive housing in the tristate area, outpacing even Atlanta in housing costs. With a distinct lack of affordable housing, families must live further and further from their jobs, and without accessible mass transportation, must also have access to a reliable vehicle. As a result of their circumstances, one unexpected car repair can start an economic spiral that most families living paycheck to paycheck simply cannot escape.
In the last year alone, MANNA FoodBank has seen a huge increase in the number of working families who are struggling to make ends meet and forced to make difficult choices about how to spend limited resources. According to MANNA FoodBank’s Hunger in America: Western North Carolina 2014 Report, more than 75 percent of families served by MANNA’s network have had to choose between buying food and paying utility bills and more than 64 percent have had to choose between buying food and paying for necessary medicine or medical care.
“It is rare that an opportunity brings together our guests and employees to impact the local community,” said Robert Foster, director of hotel operations for Biltmore Farms Hotels. “Starting the Feed A Family program with Biltmore Farms Hotels did just that and was a meaningful experience for all involved, as well as strengthened our relationship with MANNA FoodBank.”
Sweet Dreams, Full Plates aims to connect the Asheville metro area’s thriving tourism industry to local hunger relief issues. The area’s hotels are almost exclusively supported by outside visitors who might be unfamiliar with the local community’s needs. Hotel guests will have a chance to make a real impact while visiting, as well as learn more about hunger issues in the WNC region.
“MANNA has enjoyed support from the hospitality sector for decades,” said Alisa Hixson, director of corporate engagement and signature events for MANNA FoodBank. “This innovative partnership marks a strategic opportunity to enlarge the circle of support and engage visitors to our region who desire to partake in our unique offerings and also leave something in return.”
“Hospitality businesses are generous supporters of local charitable efforts,” noted Explore Asheville president and CEO Stephanie Brown. “We applaud the lodging industry involving some of the 3.8 million overnight visitors to engage them in our community to participate in a local effort of giving.”
Throughout the month of September, area hotels will engage guests to make an impact on local hunger by inviting them to forgo stay over services and hang a “We Fed A Family” door hanger on their door. For every room that chooses to participate, the hotel will make a $2 donation on their behalf. Each $2 donation will allow MANNA FoodBank to provide enough food for seven meals.Hotel staff
Hotels are engaging further by signing up to take group tours of MANNA’s facilities to better understand the issue of hunger in WNC before the September campaign kicks off.
“A small idea that has evolved into a community-wide initiative and brings the hospitality industry together is more than we could have imagined, and our employees are excited to see the positive impact we can collectively have on hunger in Western North Carolina,” said Foster.
Each participating hotel will track their weekly fundraising efforts and the hotel that raises the most funds will be announced on a billboard.
“This program invites visitors to share in a value dear to our region,” said Hixson. “It is part of Asheville’s appeal and what draws diverse visitors: an inclusive mindset. That is, neighbors helping neighbors, where even short-term neighbors can make a difference.”
The following area hotels will participate: AC Hotel, Aloft Asheville Downtown, Comfort Suites Outlet Center, Country Inn & Suites, Country Inn and Suites By Carlson Asheville Westgate, Courtyard Marriott, Crowne Plaza Tennis and Golf Resort – Asheville, Days Inn – Biltmore East, Doubletree by Hilton Asheville – Biltmore, Fairfield Inn, 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, and Springhill Suites Marriott.