Philanthropic Foodies Combines Local Culinary Talent with Charitable Giving

Guests celebrating at the 2017 Philanthropic Foodies event

More than 200 local dining enthusiasts gathered at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo this past July to enjoy the samplings of local chefs at the Sixth Annual Philanthropic Foodies Culinary Showcase. While attendees enjoyed gourmet selections from some of the region’s most talented chefs – along with live music and an enthusiastic auction – more than $50,000 was being raised for charity.

Renee Duffy and her husband, Tim, are co-founders of Philanthropic Foodies. Renee and Tim, along with Paula Miller, form the executive committee of this unique and successful event.

The Duffys first came up with the concept for Philanthropic Foodies in 2012 with their friend Kevin Gentile, a prominent Central New York chef. They wanted to create an event that allowed people to eat, drink, and give back – all in one. Since then, the event has grown consistently in size and support. The 2017 event highlighted the talents of 14 chefs along with multiple restaurant, beverage and corporate sponsors.

Each year, the event raises funds for lesser-known local charities in need of both financial support and more awareness of their missions. This year’s recipients were Friends of Dorothy and Gigi’s Playhouse. Friends of Dorothy provides home-based care for people with AIDS. Gigi’s Playhouse is a Down syndrome achievement center in Syracuse that offers educational opportunities, therapy, support and fun while raising self-esteem. The Central New York Community Foundation administers the Philanthropic Foodies Fund – which collects and distributes their event proceeds to the highlighted charities at the conclusion of each year’s event.

By partnering with the Community Foundation to handle the administration of the fund, the event founders were able to avoid the hassle of setting up and running a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization of their own. To that end, they can focus their attention on raising as many dollars as possible for their designated charities.

“One of the things that we’ve always been very proud of is that over 90 percent of everything raised goes directly to the charities,” said Duffy. “We work very hard to get as many things donated as we possibly can.”

This year, more than $51,000 was distributed to charities. And since the first Foodies event, more than $258,000 has been granted locally.

The Philanthropic Foodies Fund is a separately accounted component fund of the Community Foundation. The Foundation holds the money collected, gives tax receipts to people who give, and disseminates the funds to the charities designated to receive support.

“One of the main goals of the Community Foundation is to increase the amount of giving in the community,” said Jennifer Owens, senior vice president and chief development officer at the Central New York Community Foundation. “We make sure people who want to have a positive impact on our community are given a platform that makes it easy. We hope that this support helps direct more money to charities than might otherwise have been contributed.”

Michael DeSalvo and Nick Orth, who run Friends of Dorothy on the Northside of Syracuse, are appreciative of the support the organization has received from this program.

“The dedication Tim, Renee, and the committee have shown year after year is quite remarkable,” said DeSalvo. “We always say it isn’t as much about the money as it is the spirit in which it is given. The love and support they have shown to us and the other groups benefitting from the event is extraordinary. This event comes from the heart and is evident in everyone involved from the top down. We are always honored to be a part of it. Words can’t do it justice.”

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