WNC’s Staggering Need for Food Continues to Grow
As of May 2023, a new and deeply unsettling watermark has been hit – MANNA and our Partner Network have served more people in one month than ever in the organization’s 40 year history. Over 155,000 individuals received much-needed food at a food distribution in May. Prior to 2020, MANNA served an estimated 65,000 people each month – an already unacceptable number of people needing food in our region.
Across the board, the members of our dedicated MANNA Partner Network – over 250 nonprofits and human service organizations caring for communities in the 16 counties of WNC, including the Qualla Boundary – are reporting increases in the numbers of senior citizens, families with young children, and employed individuals who work full time yet still can’t afford food.
Our neighbors across WNC are right now facing an ongoing socioeconomic perfect storm: skyrocketing housing costs combined with steadily rising living costs, including food and transportation. Paired with wages that – while rising, are hardily keeping up – these factors are straining already-stretched budgets. MANNA and our network of food providers is often the thing helping a household scrape by from one month to the next – helping people afford their rent, seniors afford their needed medicines, and parents afford childcare.
We hear from our neighbors attending markets and meals that, without our support and that of our incredible Partner Network, many would have nothing to eat. That so many of our neighbors are struggling right now continues to both concern and motivate us; alongside our Partner Network, Volunteer Corp, and members of our supportive community like you, we are determined be there with this lifeline to help people survive.