Dine Out Against Hunger began as a simple idea in 1998: A win-win-win arrangement that would boost business for restaurants pledging 20 percent of their proceeds for the day, give an excuse to diners to enjoy a meal out, and raise funds to help Staten Island’s most vulnerable residents.
In 1999, about 50 restaurants signed on for the event. Nearly triple that amount will be participating in the upcoming Dine Out Against Hunger Thursday, April 10, 2014. The distinctive green-and-blue Dine Out posters have already begun to appear on the walls of restaurants across the borough -- establishments that range from grab-and-go takeout to high-end cuisine.
Thanks to the generosity of restaurant owners, the annual breakfast, lunch and dinner event usually garners about $70,000 for Project Hospitality – Staten Island’s largest and most comprehensive social service and housing safety net.
Every year Project Hospitality serves meals, provides shelter and offers other essential services to more than 38,000 of those most in need in our community – a group that now includes include Superstorm Sandy survivors.
“It’s a good deal for restaurants that get to benefit on a Thursday night, and do a lot more business than they probably would. It’s a good deal for the customers because they can go out and a try a new restaurant they might not otherwise try, and it raises awareness about Project Hospitality,” said Ken Tirado, owner of Killmeyers Old Bavaria Inn, who has been a part of the event since its incipience. “It’s good for everybody.”
This year’s Dine Out comes at a time when the need has never been greater.
The number of Staten Islanders using Project Hospitality’s food and nutrition services increased by more than 50 percent as a result of Superstorm Sandy. More than a year after the disaster hunger persists. In the last three months of 2013, nearly 109,300 meals were served in Sandy-ravaged zip codes 10305 and 10306. Most of those emergency meals – an astonishing 67 percent – went to senior citizens.
With recent cuts in federal food benefits, even more Staten Island residents have become dependent on pantries and food kitchens, as it has become difficult for families to stretch reduced benefits to purchase sufficient food for the month.
“The hidden hungry are those mothers and fathers who make a choice between paying the rent, paying the heat, paying the lights and paying the food bill,” said the Rev. Terry Troia, executive director of Project Hospitality. “What we can do with one plate, one meal on Dine Out is saving the world. The way you can make that meal the best ever is to get as many people as you can to dine out. The larger the tables at Dine Out, the larger the table will be on Staten Island, so everybody can have a seat.”
Our team is looking forward to supporting this program by dining out on April 10th, 2014 in Staten Island. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join us.