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Niagara Falls Convention Center supports community

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Fri, Sep 23rd 2022 01:05 pm

1,700 pounds of food donated to Community Missions, Heart, Love & Soul, Niagara Gospel Mission

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 he plans for a buffer in his meal counts.

Director of Sales Melissa Gearhart said, “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 Sept. 5-11. Destination Niagara USA said the benefit to the city extended beyond the $2.75 million economic impact.

Moreover, as a result of overages from the event, 1,700 pounds of food was donated to local organizations in need – including Community Missions; Heart, Love & Soul; and Niagara Gospel Mission.

Community Missions Vice President of Public Relations and Development Christian Hoffman said his agency serves between 4,000 and 5,000 meals a week.

“The donation of prepared food was so welcome,” he said. “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,” said Jillian Johnson, marketing and communications manager for Heart, Love & Soul. Founded in 1983, Heart, Love & Soul is a food pantry, dining room and social care provider in the north end of Niagara Falls.

Destination Niagara USA manages the NFCC. President and CEO John Percy said, “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.”

The mission of Destination Niagara USA is to expand the economic prosperity of the Niagara Falls USA communities by generating individual and group visitation. For more information, visit niagarafallsusa.com.

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