We wanted to give our community an update on where we stand in our planning process for our much-needed new facility. As you know, more than a year before the COVID-19 crisis hit, MANNA was faced with the daunting reality of an essential need for a new facility. This was driven by reaching critical mass in terms of 1.) our capacity to acquire and store much-needed food supplies, 2.) serious safety concerns due to the constraints of our warehouses and parking lots, and 3.) the ever-present threat of flooding as we sit on the banks of the Swannanoa River. Additionally, due to MANNA being located in the floodway, there were no options for further expansion of our current facilities. Therefore, to continue our vital work in getting food to those who need it most across WNC, it became imperative to pursue a new facility.
Then, when the COVID-19 crisis hit, we moved overnight into emergency response mode, and had to lease additional warehouse space, onsite refrigerated storage units, and a separate office location to accommodate for the explosion in need for food. We are stilling serving more than 100,000 people each month – 30-40% above pre-pandemic averages.
Currently, we have identified a location in Swannanoa, 6.3 miles from our current facility, as the best potential location that fits our top-priority needs. MANNA will only purchase this proposed property when a Brownfield Letter of Eligibility is issued from the NC Department of Environmental Quality stating that the site is safe and appropriate to build on for our use.
If this property is actualized, it is MANNA’s intention to be the best possible neighbor that we can be for the surrounding community, as we try to be for all of WNC. We are currently engaging with neighbors and are listening to their valid concerns for the neighborhood, including creating an evergreen vegetation border, installing night sensitive/motion lighting, etc. It is our sincere hope that our presence as an organization committed to ending hunger in WNC creates an even greater sense of collective community pride for our neighbors.
Stay tuned for more updates as things progress!