MLK Community Center’s Exec. Dir. Marilyn Warren shows the Center’s low amount of food inventory.

“It’s better than last year…but the need is still there.” That’s the message from Marilyn Warren, Executive Director of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center (MLK Center) about the Center’s food pantry inventory.

For the second year in a row, Ryan Belmore (Owner of What’sUpNewp) and Rich Willis (Owner of Caleb & Broad and Point Wine & Spirits) are once again rallying the community to help fill the food pantry shelves at the MLK Center.

In 2016, Belmore and Willis launched a 100 for $100 campaign, an effort to rally at least 100 local business owners to help support and feed our hungry Newport County neighbors by making at least a $100 donation to our local food bank. The effort was a success with more than 110 businesses donating a total of more than $16,000, which then resulted in an additional $100,000 being donated in a match challenge between the community and Peter and Eaddo Kiernan.

Photo of food pantry at MLK Center in October 2016

“We published a photo of bare shelves last year on Facebook and it really took off,” Warren said. “Ryan Belmore and Rich Willis got together and decided to challenge the local business community to support us. Peter and Eaddo Kiernan answered the call and issued two $25,000 challenges to the community.”

Belmore and Willis are once again calling on business owners and residents in Newport County this October to help raise money and collect food to help fill the MLK Center’s food pantry shelves, seniors, singles, moms, dads, their kids (who are our neighbors) look to the MLK Center for food year-round.

The Center is Newport County’s largest food pantry and the 13th largest in Rhode Island. Last year, the Center distributed 220,230 meals. The MLK also provided Thanksgiving baskets to 849 people and Christmas food baskets to 1,057 people. The Center also holds Santa’s Workshop, where holiday toys and gifts were given to 513 local kids last year.

“The pantry shelves aren’t empty but they aren’t as full as we need them to be,” Warren explained. “There are specific items we really need, especially as we head into the holiday season, where we provide more food to our clients. Specifically, we need canned protein, peanut butter, jam and jelly, pasta sauce, and hearty soups.  We need household and toiletry items too. We can leverage cash donations to buy these items at the lowest possible cost but of course, donated food and other items are always welcome.”

The MLK Community Center is expanding its Food 2 Friends program to meet increased demand for deliveries of groceries, fresh produce, household and toiletry items to homebound and hungry seniors.

“Last year’s generosity was incredible but it only goes so far”, Warren continued. “Unfortunately, hunger is a reality 365 days a year. Kids, seniors, moms and dads…everyone needs and deserves nutritious food every single day.”

A community resource since 1922, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center’s innovative programs provide hunger relief, educational and community support for nearly 3,000 diverse residents of Newport County.

“The MLK will be here providing help as long as the community needs it but we could really use some help right now,” Warren concluded.

Belmore and Willis kicked off their 2nd annual 100 for $100 campaign on October 11th and encourage businesses and residents to donate before November 1st, while $100 is encouraged, donations of any monetary domination, food, household items or toiletries are all also welcomed.

  • To make a monetary donation online: Click on the Donate button on the Center’s website at During the donation process please add a note for “100 at $100 Campaign”.
  • To make a monetary donation by check: Make checks payable to “MLK Community Center” and note “100 at $100 Campaign” on the memo line and send it to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, 20 Dr. Marcus F. Wheatland Blvd., Newport RI  02840.
  • To donate cash: Deliver to the Center Mon-Fri 8:30 am – 5:00 pm.
  • To donate food or items: Deliver to the Center’s Loading Dock Mon – Fri: 8:30 am  – 5:00 pm.

Items that the MLK Center needs the most right now:

  • Food: Canned protein (tuna, chicken, SPAM, chili, stew, salmon, sardines, Vienna sausages, etc), peanut butter, jam and jelly, pasta sauce and hearty soups.
  • Household items: Laundry detergent, dish liquid, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels.
  • Toiletries: Toothpaste & toothbrushes, disposable razors, band-aids & first aid items, shampoo & conditioner, feminine products, deodorant, body wash, diapers of all sizes.

Questions? Reach out to Alyson Novick at or 401.846.4828 x102. For more information, visit or call 401-846-4828.


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