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March 2023 News Updates


The 29th Annual Tropical Nights Goes Hollywood, an event benefiting Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee, will take place on Saturday, March 25, 2023, at The Grove Ballroom in Lakewood Ranch. Please join us on the red carpet! All proceeds from Tropical Nights benefit the programs of Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee and stay right here in our local community.

Tickets and sponsorships are limited. RSVP today to secure your seat! Click here for details.

Tropical Nights Online Silent Auction
Start Time: Friday, March 17th at 12pm
Dates: Friday-Saturday, March 17-25, 2023

The online auction will feature a wide variety of packages on which to bid. Auction will end the night of the Tropical Nights event. The auction is online and available to everyone—not just event attendees, so bid early and bid often in support of our mission!

29th Annual Tropical Nights Goes Hollywood
Date: Saturday, March 25, 2023
Time: 6pm
Location: Grove Restaurant Ballroom, 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202
Attire: Cocktail, Hollywood Glam

Click here to buy tickets

*Limited tickets available! Get yours today!


For several years, Vanessa Fine Jewelry has been a huge supporter of the mission of Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee including being a sponsor of our annual Tropical Nights event. That tradition continues as they have donated a magnificent diamond bracelet valued at over $3,800 for the Live Auction at this year’s Tropical Nights Goes Hollywood event. “We think it’s important to support Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee because the community has supported us all these years – that’s why we give back the way that we do,” said Don Baugh, owner of Vanessa Fine Jewelry. It’s not too late to donate an item/package for our Tropical Nights Silent or Live Auctions. Click here to donate.


On Monday, February 27th, we showed our appreciation for our dedicated volunteers at our 2023 Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. The luncheon was made possible thanks to a generous donation from the presenting sponsor, Humana. In addition, President & CEO Maribeth Phillips offered her praise and recognition for our volunteers who truly are the heart and soul of Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee. In addition, board member the Honorable Melissa Gould, offered her support of all the volunteers who make our mission possible every day!

Without our volunteers we could not #FeedManatee. From sorting food to delivering meals and everything in-between, volunteers are the engine that moves Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee forward.

At the luncheon, the following individuals/organizations were recognized for their volunteering excellence:

Esplanade at Artisan Lakes
Most Amazing Neighborhood Award

Craig & Marjorie Taylor
Rookies of the Year

Audry Zerfas
Outstanding Food Bank Volunteer

Linda Coleman
Best Daybreak Adult Day Center Volunteer

Demetra Walters
Best Friendship Dining Volunteer

The Manatee River Garden Club
Outstanding Volunteer Group

Terry Wells
Above and Beyond

And we honored the following Volunteer Champions for 10+ years of service to Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee:

Audry Zerfas
Robert Foote
Kathryn Vander Waal
Elizabeth Vallez
Nancy R. Thomas
David & Susan Balsey


Produce on Wheels is a vital part of the Home-delivered Meals program. It provides necessary nutrition to homebound seniors. In order to provide this, volunteers are needed to pack the nearly 900 bags of produce. Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee is fortunate to have clergy, lay leadership, and members from Temple Beth El who volunteer once a month to perform the task. This all started when Ken H., a member of Temple Beth El, started to help with packing the produce bags and asked Meals on Wheels PLUS if he could bring in a group to pack the bags.

Ever since, the clergy, leadership, and members do what is important to them and Temple Beth El—serving the community. “What has always appealed to us about volunteering at Meals on Wheels is the dedication of the employees. Everyone advocates for the clients in a way that is above and beyond what is required,” says Ken. “We understand how important the Produce on Wheels program is. The produce comes in today, and the people who need it get it tomorrow. The impact is immediate,” he adds. During the one-hour, volunteering shift, approximately 450 bags of produce are packed. “We have reached the point where we can do that much in an hour. Packing the produce creates comradery,” say the volunteers from Temple Beth El. The partnership between Temple Beth El, Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee, and the clients is a continuing, long-term commitment that benefit all involved. If you are inspired by the Temple Beth El story and would like to volunteer, please click here.


There are over 80 food pantries and partner agencies in Manatee County that rely on The Food Bank of Manatee to support local, food-insecure families. One of those partners is Stillpoint Mission. Each week, Stillpoint Mission, which has operated since 1998, distributes critical food to nearly 320 families, up about 25% from last year. The Food Bank of Manatee recently supplied them with over 1,500 lbs of meat for their distribution. Many of the families in need are employed but, because of rising costs, cannot make ends meet. In addition to distributing food, Stillpoint Mission also supplies a one-week supply of diapers, clothing, and assistance with utilities every 90 days. “The need is real,” says Joann N., a volunteer at Stillpoint Mission. Donations to The Food Bank of Manatee are distributed back out into the community through our Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen Partners. For information on our critically-needed food items list that help feed those in need in our community, please click here.


River Strand Ladies Golf Club, a huge supporter of The Food Bank of Manatee, recently donated $7,700 to support local, food-insecure families. In addition, they also collected over 800 pounds of food that will help #FeedManatee. If you would like to support our mission to assist individuals to live independently by providing nutrition and caring, supportive services, please click here.


The William G. & Marie Selby Foundation Nutrition Services Center, which officially opened in 2022, hosted a Galentine’s Champagne Brunch on Sunday, February 12th in the state-of-the-art rental space. The celebration of friendship event was attended by long-time supporters of Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee.

Also in February, the Nutrition Services Center was host to an informative seminar for students. Sugg Middle Schoolers volunteered at The Food Bank of Manatee, were educated on nutrition by the Manatee County School District, shown how to create a marketing brochure, and given a cooking demonstration by Manatee Technical College. Teachers and students were thrilled with the experience. Please contact us for rental information or to schedule a tour of this appealing venue.


The clients of Daybreak Adult Day Center felt love on Valentine’s Day from the local community. Our attending seniors received personalized cards created by their “grand-friends” from Braden River Elementary School. These students love their neighbors at Daybreak Adult Day Center! In addition, the clients received beautiful centerpieces created by students at IMG Academy. Other cards from Palmetto Charter were also donated. The clients loved reading the cards as well as admiring the beauty of the centerpieces. Donations like these are important and bring joy to our Daybreak Adult Day Center clients. For more information about Daybreak Adult Day Center, please click here.


During the month of March, alongside Meals on Wheels organizations across the country, we celebrate Meals on Wheels PLUS and the seniors we serve as we March for Meals together. During March for Meals, local representatives and officials like State Representative Will Robinson (pictured) help raise public awareness for the nutritional and social needs of seniors by participating in our Home-delivered Meals program and delivering meals to our clients. Follow us on social media for more stories about this year’s March for Meals!