As we race everyday to meet the dramatically increased need in our region, it has become both a marathon and a sprint.
Right now, MANNA is simultaneously running a sprint and a marathon. And we have been for half a year now.
Over the past six months, we’ve witnessed the need for food assistance in our region significantly increase. Prior to the pandemic, WNC was already engaged in a unique and difficult struggle with food insecurity. After the economic collapse that followed the beginning of the pandemic, however, the situation only got worse as many lost their jobs and businesses were forced to close.
To meet this increased need, we’ve been working at record levels. Every day, our operations team is coming in and working over time to make sure that food can reach every pocket of WNC. Our volunteers and volunteer center staff are working tirelessly to sort and pack food each week that can then be delivered to our partner agencies for distribution. Furthermore, our partner agencies are still seeing an average increase of over 50% in the number of people in need of food compared to their pre-COVID averages.
Food insecurity in our region, as previously mentioned, was already a glaring issue in WNC and the pandemic has only made the situation worse. Our region’s road to economic recovery is a lengthy one and there is no way of knowing when we will experience a full economic recovery in all of our 16 counties.
That’s why we’re preparing now so that we can continue to show up for those whose need for food assistance is recent, as well as, those who have needed our assistance prior to this crisis.
In the words of Jennifer Lutz, our Director of Agency Relations, “We really need the community to come together to help us. We need those fresh legs to really finish this marathon out.”
Amidst all of this, we want to extend our depths of gratitude to all who have and are helping make it possible for us to be there for everyone who needs our support across Western North Carolina. We could not do it without you.