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VHTA Adopts No Kid Hungry as Charity of Choice

Thursday, October 8, 2015   (0 Comments)
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Eric Terry and Debbie Donehey with First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAulliffe
Eric Terry, VHTA President, and Debbie Donehey, VHTA Chairwoman of the Board, with First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe at the 2015 Commonwealth Hospitality Forum.

On September 1, 2015, VHTA hosted our first Commonwealth Hospitality Forum. The event was a partnership between VHTA and two other amazing organizations—the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance and HSMAI Virginia Chapter. Months of planning and coordination culminated in a half-day educational conference for nearly 100 of Virginia’s hospitality professionals.

The afternoon featured eight speakers, including our general session speakers Mark D’Amico from Dana Communications and Darnell Halloway from Yelp. Perhaps most exciting, however, was the honor of having First Lady of the Commonwealth Dorothy McAuliffe open the meeting with exciting updates about state of Virginia Tourism and more about her efforts to fight childhood hunger.

During her opening remarks, McAuliffe shared some alarming statistics about childhood hunger in Virginia:

  • 1 in 6 children will face hunger this year;
  • Only 51% of children who qualify for free school breakfast receive one; and
  • Only 13% of children who receive a free or reduced price lunch also have access to summer meals.

The last of these three is, possibly, the most alarming. During the summer months, when students are more likely to be left alone due to a parent or parents working, only 13% of qualifying children receive a lunch from an established program.

So what are we doing to help?

Earlier in the day, at VHTA’s quarterly meeting, the membership voted to adopt No Kid Hungry as our official charity of choice. Meaning that, whenever possible, VHTA will do our best to incorporate a fundraising component for the organization. For example, following the Commonwealth Hospitality Forum, at a post event reception, we hosted a silent auction to benefit No Kid Hungry. With some incredible prizes from all across the state, we were able to donate more than $2,500 to the organization to help fight childhood hunger.

More than that, we are strongly encouraging our members to get involved and to find ways to help. There are currently around 200 restaurants in Virginia participating in this month’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry. If you are dining out in September, please consider finding a participating restaurant on the Dine Out For No Kid Hungry website.

VHTA will also be exploring the relationship of Restaurant Weeks throughout the state and No Kid Hungry. While we do not manage these events directly, we are strong contributors to several of these events. Our role is often to provide support and direction. No Kid Hungry will be part of that direction. To see this in action, look for Northern Virginia Restaurant Week in March 2016.

If you would like to see pictures or presentations from the 2015 Commonwealth Hospitality Forum, click here.

This article was originally written for, and published in, the October issue of Foodservice Monthly.

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