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Asheville-area Hotels Embark on Massive Anti-hunger Initiative

Volunteers working in the MANNA FoodBank warehouse.
MANNA FoodBank

An unprecedented effort is underway to turn sweet dreams into full plates for the families of Western North Carolina.

This September, over 30 Asheville-area hotels will embark on the second annual “Sweet Dreams, Full Plates” initiative, a major collaboration aimed at connecting Asheville area’s thriving tourism industry to local hunger relief issues.

“The Asheville hotel industry and MANNA have set the bar when it comes to bringing our visitors into the loop of making a difference in the community they are visiting,” said Robert Foster, Director of Hotel Operations for Biltmore Farms Hotels. “One of the things I enjoyed most was the connection our staff and guests made with the difference they were making.”

The concept is simple, but the results are truly life-changing.

Hotel guests, during September, are 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 chooses to participate, the hotel makes a $2 donation on their behalf.

With each $2 donation, MANNA FoodBank is able to provide enough food for seven meals.

“The success of this campaign 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.

In 2017, this unprecedented campaign raised over $30,000 during the inaugural year; resulting in nearly 120,000 meals distributed through MANNA FoodBank to help end hunger in Western North Carolina.

“Last year’s program proved that many of the tourists that seek out Asheville, share the same  values that make this community so inclusive,” said Hixson. “They are excited to be able to participate in giving back. A lot of young families seem especially excited to demonstrate to their kids how a simple act of giving can be so powerful to someone in need.”

The 2018 campaign aims to up its donation to $50,000 for MANNA FoodBank – equaling roughly 175,000 meals distributed to WNC.

What makes the program so unique, partners say, is the area-wide collaboration of businesses, guests, and the community to achieve a common goal – a true testament of Southern hospitality.

“Hospitality businesses are generous supporters of local charities,” said Explore Asheville President & 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.”

Boosting excitement, participating hotels compete internally for who can raise the most money during the month. Last year, 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 nabbed the Dream Team Award.

Participants hope to grow this campaign annually and also inspire hospitality-based charity efforts across the nation.

The campaign coincides with National Action Hunger Month, a month where people all over America stand together with Feeding America and the nationwide network of food banks to fight hunger.

It’s a harsh reality that many may be surprised to find: hidden within the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains 1 in 6 people and 1 in 4 children are food insecure.

A reality that, through the efforts of these community industries, will truly turn sweet dreams into full plates.

For more information on “Sweet Dreams, Full Plates”, visit sweetdreamsfullplates.org and follow the 2018 campaign on Facebook.