On Monday, Aug. 29, Mercedes-Benz Stadium played host to Full Plates, Full Hearts, a benefit dinner for (SHA).
The evening honored Sheri Labovitz and Liz Blake, two vital champions of SHA’s mission, and raised critical funding to further the organization’s mission to drive out hunger in Metro Atlanta. The food rescue organization’s first-ever gala exceeded expectations by raising more than $600,000 to feed food-insecure families in Atlanta.
“Sheri’s and Liz’s deep commitment to the organization helped us amplify our mission to a highly influential audience who may not have otherwise known about our good work,” said Andrea Jaron, executive director of SHA. “Without the support of these pivotal players and all of our hard-working staff, volunteers, donors and board of directors, we couldn’t do what we do to drive out hunger.”
Full Plates, Full Hearts celebrated the impact of the city’s only nonprofit dedicated to moving fresh, surplus food from grocers, corporate kitchens and sports arenas, such as Mercedes-Benz Stadium, to hunger relief agencies, while also keeping it out of landfills.
The event also provided a meaningful reflection on the organization’s growth over the last 18 years and highlighted the continuing need to support food-insecure neighbors.
What was once a congregant-led volunteer effort at Temple Sinai is today its own 501c3 organization with a full staff, offices and hundreds of volunteers. Since its inception, SHA has rescued more than 18 million pounds of food and driven it to hundreds of partner agencies that feed the hungry.
To put that in perspective, if you covered the Mercedes-Benz Stadium football field with all the food SHA has rescued, it would stand some 1,462 feet high or 146 stories tall. That’s more than four Mercedes-Benz Stadiums stacked on top of each other.
Yet the challenge remains staggering. A reported 25 percent of Atlantans don’t live within a half-mile of fresh food. Food insecurity is unacceptable by any measure, and it has been made worse by the pandemic. As the numbers go up, so does SHA’s enduring commitment to driving out hunger.
“No family should ever have to choose between paying a bill or feeding their family,” said Jaron. “We rescue food from the community and feed the hungry within that same community.”
This full-circle approach is made evident in SHA’s partnership with Mercedes-Benz Stadium. In line with the stadium’s commitment to support the Westside communities that surround it, SHA drives the fresh, surplus food from the stadium’s suites to agencies right in its own backyard. In fact, on the morning after the event, SHA volunteers picked up all the surplus food from Full Plates, Full Hearts and delivered it to neighboring agencies.
The stadium’s chief executive officer, Steve Cannon, and his wife, Ann, co-chaired the event along with Jack and Lynne Halpern. Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens was among the attendants, which also included Councilpersons Matt Westmoreland, Alex Wan and Liliana Bakhtiari; Jill Savitt, the CEO of the National Center for Civil & Human Rights; Dorian Denburg, who chaired the host committee; Jewish Film Festival founder and executive director Kenny Blank and many more.
Top sponsors included the Blakes, the Labovitzes, The Marcus Foundation, Arthur Blank Family of Businesses, World50, Delta Air Lines, the Halperns, Bernard and Anne Howell Gray and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation.
SHA is gearing up to mark the 500,000th meal packed and delivered as part of Meals with Meaning, an initiative launched during the height of the pandemic, in partnership with HelloFresh and Pratt Industries.
Each week, dozens of volunteers convene at SHA’s warehouse to pack 2,000 fresh, nutritious meal kits, which the city drives to those who need it the most. With fresh ingredients provided by HelloFresh, including a step-by-step recipe card, the kits have all the produce and proteins needed to make hearty meals.
- Mercedes-Benz Stadium
- Full Plates
- Full Hearts
- second helpings atlanta
- Sheri Labovitz
- Liz Blake
- Food Insecurity
- Andrea Jaron
- Temple Sinai
- Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens
- Councilpersons Matt Westmoreland
- Alex Wan
- Liliana Bakhtiari
- National Center for Civil & Human Rights
- Jewish Film Festival
- The Marcus Foundation
- Arthur Blank Family of Businesses
- Delta Air Lines
- Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation
- Pratt Industries
- Meals with Meaning