JW Marriott Indianapolis Hosts Ongoing Food Drives To Help Those In-Need
Even though many Americans are getting back to work and vaccination rates are leveling off, the JW Marriott Indianapolis hasn’t stopped helping those still out of work and hurting financially due to COVID-19. Since March 2020, the hotel has been showing its concern for its community by hosting free Community Food Distribution events in partnership with Gleaners Community Food Bank.
Since its inception, the ongoing charitable effort has hosted 36 events distributing more than 8,200 food boxes totaling 204,000 pounds of nutrition for hungry members of the local hospitality and the public at large. In May, the hotel scheduled four food distribution events, including one scheduled for May 26 from 3-5 p.m. EST at the JW Marriott Convention Center.
According to Anne Dunlavy, market director of sales and marketing for Marriott IndyPlace, which comprises the JW Marriott and four other connected hotels adjacent to the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis, the community food drive initially started to help furloughed hotel employees by giving them unused food items from the hotel’s kitchen. But once the degree of need within the local hospitality community became clearer, the effort quickly morphed into a larger operation.
“Our associates needed assistance and we were able to partner with a local church to start the initial two food drives in our event center, and then we were able to connect with Gleaners Food Bank to fuel the rest,” Dunlavy explained. “It started out with Marriott Indy Place associates and then we quickly opened up to all hospitality industry [employees].”
As the community food drives grew in size and scope, so did its volunteers, comprised of human resources directors and staff from IndyPlace and other downtown Indianapolis hotels. All events are promoted through the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association alongside word of mouth to neighbors and friends.
The 35-pound food boxes, which are now offered to anyone in the local community who needs them, typically included milk, cheese, potatoes, onions, carrots, apples, oranges, cabbage and a meat item, Dunlavy added.
Although the Marriott IndyPlace team hasn’t yet determined whether the drives will continue into the summer, the experience of giving back to team members and local citizens in-need has been a welcome bright spot in a dark and challenging time.
“I am very proud of Mie Young and our Human Resource team at Marriott IndyPlace organizing and executing these food drives,” said Phil Ray, general manager of the JW Marriott Indianapolis. “It has been such a devastating year for our staff and hospitality community, and I am glad we could help some of our own who are in need.”