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Feed My People, Applebee's 'dine to donate'

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Feed My People, a Stockbridge-based thrift store and food bank, which serves the Southern Crescent, recently set its sights on raising the $5 million needed to move into a new location in Lake City.

On Monday night, Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar will help Feed My People jump-start its fund-raising campaign.

Feed My People and Applebee's will host a 'Dining to Donate' event at 6 p.m., at the Applebee's located at 3676 Highway 138, S.E., in Stockbridge. During the evening, diners will have the opportunity to donate 15 percent of their meal purchase to Feed My People's fund-raising efforts.

Especially for that evening, store hours for Feed My People -- located at 6045 North Henry Blvd. -- will be extended to 10 p.m., so diners can shop after they eat.

Carolyn McKenzie, director of marketing and public relations for Feed My People, said the event will "let people know that we are determined to move into that 60,000 square-foot building," which was once the Lake City Ingles supermarket.

"We're getting geared up to ask 1,000 companies to donate $5,000 a piece, and right now, we are in the awareness phase," said McKenzie. "We have a marketing plan, a public relations plan, and a fund-raising plan."

The Dining to Donate event at Applebee's "is the catalyst to kick off the whole thing," said McKenzie.

Since the first Applebee's opened on Memorial Drive in Atlanta in 1980, the restaurant chain has prided itself on being a "neighborhood restaurant," said Ashley Sasher, spokesperson for AppleCreek Management Company, which owns Applebee's and Up The Creek Grill, Seafood and Steaks restaurants.

Sasher said the company started the "Dining to Donate" program in 2005 as another way to give back to the community.

"It's structured to support all greater Atlanta non-profit associations," said Sasher. "It's an easy way for them to fund-raise. People love to dine out and Applebee's is a fun, family-friendly restaurant, so this program lets them raise the funds that they need.

"It's definitely a two-way street," Sasher continued. "It's a way for us to build traffic as well." She said the program will "create awareness" about Feed My People, while helping it achieve its fund-raising goals.

Feed My People is presently in negotiations with Ingles, which still owns the lease to the 60,000 square-foot property off Highway 54 in Lake City. Feed My People is hoping to move into the location in the fall and take over the lease once it is up in two years.

McKenzie hopes the donations will put Feed My People in a position to buy the building when the time is right.

"Applebee's accommodates 200 people, so we hope we will have at least 200 people there that night and at least half of them will go shopping," said McKenzie.

Diners will have to present a special ticket to their server in order for Feed My People to receive the 15 percent donation. For ticket information, call Carolyn McKenzie at (770) 873-4496.