Community Comes Together for Hunger Action Month

Food-insecure residents of McDowell County receive delivery of fresh, perishable foods like produce, dairy, meats and breads at the Clinchfield United Methodist Church food pantry in Marion, N.C. through MANNA FoodBank’s MANNA Express program on Thursday, May 18, 2017. Photography by Kathy Kmonicek

Throughout this month, Mountain Area Nutritional Needs Alliance (MANNA) FoodBank will be hosting multiple events to engage the Western North Carolina community in ending hunger. September is the tenth annual Hunger Action Month, a movement organized by Feeding America’s national network of foodbanks. MANNA FoodBank serves more than 100,000 foodinsecure people across 16 counties in this region, where one in four children do not have enough food.

One of the most powerful initiatives during Hunger Action Month is the Sweet Dreams, Full Plates campaign. Twenty-nine hotels in the Asheville area will invite their guests to skip stayover service. For every room that chooses to do so, the hotel will donate $2 to MANNA.

“For every dollar that MANNA receives in support, we can provide three and a half meals,” says Kara Irani, director of marketing and communications for MANNA. “For every room that decides not to do stayover service, the hotel is donating the equivalent of seven meals.”

Last year, MANNA moved 16.4 million pounds of food, which breaks down to about 37,000 meals every day. North Carolina ranks as the eighth hungriest state in the country.

“People come to our area for natural beauty and amazing recreation and the hunger issue can be so invisible,” says Irani. “Sweet Dreams, Full Plates helps us raise awareness among tourists about this issue and also gives visitors a chance to make a local impact. It is a really excellent engagement piece for us.”

DoubleTree Biltmore Farms Hotels is a leader for this initiative. The company has engaged in a similar effort during holiday weekends in the past, but this is the first time so many hotels have come together to participate for an entire month.

“The hospitality community in Asheville is caring, giving and passionate,” says Lauren Cooper McDevitt, director of marketing for Biltmore Farms Hotels. “Sweet Dreams, Full Plates is an amazing way for us to come together for the greater good.”

The DoubleTree in Biltmore Village will also host the Empty Bowls lunch and dinner events on Monday, September 25. Attendees will receive a handmade bowl from a local potter that they can fill with soup from restaurants like Biscuit Head, Corner Kitchen and Cúrate. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and dinner is from 5–7:30 p.m. Each ticket is $40, which will allow MANNA to provide 140 meals.

Wednesday, September 13, is Ingles Day at the Mountain State Fair at the WNC Agricultural Center. Entry to the fair can be purchased by donating five cans of food to MANNA.

On Thursday, September 21, Biltmore Village will close down a street to host Farm to Village: Dining Under the Stars, a five-course dinner to benefit MANNA. Tickets are $100.

Thursday, September 14 is National Hunger Action Day. MANNA FoodBank will encourage supporters to consider the importance of adequate nutrition by writing on an empty plate, “On an empty stomach, I can’t ______” and filling in the blank. Photos can be posted to social media with the hashtag #HungerActionMonth. To join the conversation, tag @MANNAFoodBank and @FeedingAmerica.

For more information about Hunger Action Month or MANNA, or to purchase tickets for these events, visit or

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