Asheville's hospitality industry is proving sweet dreams can truly turn into full plates.
This September, over 45 hotels are coming together for the third annual Sweet Dreams, Full Plates campaign – a major collaboration aimed at connecting Asheville area's thriving tourism industry to local hunger relief issues.
"Our industry leaders and employees are such amazingly thoughtful individuals who understand how important it is to support our community," said Robert Foster, Sweet Dreams founder. "This is making a true change and I am so proud of everyone who is dedicated to helping make this program become a reality every year."
Since its inaugural year of 2017, the Sweet Dreams, Full Plates has raised just over $70,000 for MANNA FoodBank, that's nearly 280,000 meals for families across the mountains.
"It is amazing that our hospitality industry comes together toward a common goal of helping those facing food insecurity," said Mary Nesbitt, MANNA FoodBank Chief Development Officer. "Through this united, industry-driven campaign visitors from around the world are educated about hunger in WNC and invited to make a real difference through a simple, but impactful action."
Hunger is a serious and chronic issue in Western North Carolina, impacting more than 100,000 people every year, according to statistics provided by MANNA FoodBank. In fact, one in six people face an empty plate across the region, and for children, that number is even higher: One in four children don't know where or when they will get their next meal.
The idea is simple. Hotel guests, during the month of September, are given the opportunity to forgo stayover services by 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.
"It means a lot to know that each individual makes a big difference when we come together to support our local community," said Lori Hollifield, of Crowne Plaza Resort. "People around the world come to visit us, and this is our way to give back to our community, say thanks and to be a part of something bigger."
In 2017, the campaign engaged 30 ambitious hotels in the effort and raised over $30,000. The second annual Sweet Dreams, Full Plates campaign in 2018 raised an astonishing $42,500 with over 40 hotels.
"I am amazed at how quickly this has grown in three years," said Foster. "From 1 hotel to now over 45 - from $500 to a goal of $50,000 this year. But I've got to say... I'm not surprised that this industry jumped behind this without any hesitation."
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.
Funds raised through this campaign go directly to help fill plates for people served through MANNA's partner network. The majority of people who access food through this network are working families struggling to make their household budget work, seniors on fixed incomes, parents, and others simply facing a set of circumstances that make it next to impossible to afford food.
"For people who, on a daily basis, are having to make hard choices such as paying a medical bill or an electricity bill vs buying food, it is truly life-changing," Nesbitt said.
Thanks to this amazing campaign, Asheville can have say they have raised more than just the bar for Southern hospitality.
For more information visit sweetdreamsfullplates.org or follow them on Facebook. To contact the Sweet Dreams, Full Plates Campaign, please email [email protected]