Hotels Will Raise Funding to Benefit MANNA Food Bank

This September, 29 Asheville-area hotels will jointly embark on a major month-long collaboration to help feed the thousands of families that 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. Local hotels will compete with each other for a wonderful cause: To see which hotel can raise the most money to benefit MANNA FoodBank.

Hidden within the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains is 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. The Asheville area is the most expensive housing in not just the state, but the

The Asheville area is the most expensive housing in not just the state, but the tri-state 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. 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 that are struggling to make ends meet, forced to make hard choices about how to spend their very limited resources. Over 75 percent of families served by MANNA’s network have had to choose between buying food and paying utility bills; over 64 percent of families have had to choose between buying food and paying for necessary medicine or medical care, according to MANNA FoodBank’s Hunger in America: Western North Carolina 2014 Report.

“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—a feat not easily accomplished in an industry almost exclusively supported by people visiting from outside the area, who might be unfamiliar with the local community’s needs.

“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.”

Area hotels will engage hotel guests to make an impact on local hunger during their stay throughout September. Guest participation is easy: Hotel guests can choose to forgo stay over services and simply hang 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 will make a $2 donation on their behalf. With each $2 donation, MANNA FoodBank can provide enough food for seven meals.

Hotel staff are already buzzing about the upcoming competition as just another opportunity to help give back to their local community, and are signing up to take group tours of MANNA’s facilities to get a better understanding of the issue of hunger in WNC before the September campaign kicks off.

Each participating hotel will track their weekly fundraising efforts in the friendly competition; the winning hotel will receive a “huge” thank you: A giant billboard announcing the winner, bragging rights, and, of course, the warmth that comes from knowing that they helped fill the plates of families across WNC.

“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.”

Participating Hotels

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
Springhill Suites Marriott

About Shelby Harrell

Shelby Harrell is the news editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment publication and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for more than six years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.