Niagara Falls, NY—Hosting a sold-out, weeklong convention at the Niagara Falls Convention Center (NFCC) requires a great deal of planning, and large quantities of food. Michael Wilks, Executive Chef at the NFCC, is the professional in charge of ensuring guests are well-fed when they visit the building, and plans for a buffer in his meal counts. Melissa Gearhart, Director of Sales for the NFCC indicates, “Anytime we are feeding large groups with multiple food items, our chef has to prepare an appropriate amount of each item, not knowing what the group will eat. That is all figured into the menu pricing, but when groups are very large, there are food overages.”
When planning the logistics for large events, the sales team alerts local community organizations in need of food items that there may be overages. These organizations schedule pick-up times throughout the week to distribute the items in a timely manner to those in need. More than 1,400 attendees at the Dr. Joe Dispenza retreat were in Niagara Falls from Monday, September 5 through Sunday, September 11, and the benefit to the city extended beyond the $2.75 million economic impact.
As a result of overages from the Dr. Joe Dispenza event, 1,700 pounds of food was donated to local organizations in need, including Community Missions, Heart, Love and Soul and Niagara Gospel Mission. According to Christian Hoffman, Vice President of Public Relations and Development at Community Missions, their organization serves between 4,000-5,000 meals a week. “The donation of prepared food was so welcome. It provided us with several days’ worth of lunches for the public, dinners for our residential guests, and hot breakfasts that we typically aren’t able to offer those staying in our shelter.”
The pandemic and fluctuations in the economy can greatly impact small community outreach organizations. “Food costs have risen significantly and the need for our food pantry and daily meals have increased significantly in the past year; the food donations will help alleviate these issues,” states Jillian Johnson, Marketing and Communications Manager for Heart, Love and Soul. Founded in 1983, Heart, Love and Soul is a food pantry, dining room, and social care provider in the north end of Niagara Falls.
John Percy, President and CEO of Destination Niagara USA, the organization that manages the Niagara Falls Convention Center, fosters a culture of giving back to the local community. “We measure the success of our organization through the impact of tourism on the local economy, and how it benefits residents in Niagara County. Encouraging visitors to spend money at hotels, restaurants and attractions in Niagara Falls is essential, but it is equally important to bring attention and resources to the groups that serve those in need in our community as well.”
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Destination Niagara USA works to ensure Niagara County is a preferred international destination for group and leisure travel. It supports its mission to expand the economic prosperity of Niagara County by generating individual and group visitation. For more information, visit NiagaraFallsUSA.com.