People and their families across Western North Carolina are facing dire economic hardships – and this is on top of what was already a “perfect storm” of economic issues contributing to 1 in 6 people facing an empty plate, even before the pandemic. Now, with millions across the country unemployed, food insecurity is at an all-time high. North Carolina has been particularly hard hit, and in the Asheville-metro area in the heart of our 16-county service area that impact has been particularly hard.

At MANNA, this has thrown our busy daily work into the highest gear.

With the emergence of COVID-19 on a state, national, and global level, MANNA FoodBank staff is working with county and state government agencies, Feeding the Carolinas food bank members, the Feeding America food bank network, and many other private and public organizations to address the impact on Western North Carolina and the thousands of residents and families we serve. We are following all public safety recommendations from the CDC and North Carolina Department of Human Services at our warehouse facilities in Asheville, NC in order to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers, partner agencies, the people we serve, and the general public. 

We will continue to keep our website updated with important and relevant information as we work to address the most acute issues coming out of this situation.

If you are a MANNA Partner Agency, please refer here for more information on our operations, recommendations for food distribution, and other support resources.

Updates

Everyone entering MANNA must wear a face mask.

MANNA FoodBank continues to keep on-site health and safety requirements in line with current CDC recommendations. We appreciate your support of these safety precautions, so we can continue to serve the WNC community with much-needed food.

North Carolina Stay Home Order is phasing out starting Friday, May 8 at 5pm.

With North Carolina phasing out of the “Stay Home” order, MANNA FoodBank will continue operating as we have been, including all safety protocols, sanitizing practices and schedules, social distancing and PPE requirements, etc.

Email Updates

If you are a volunteer, partner organization, or other public support entity interested in receiving updates from MANNA concerning our operations and response, please sign up for our COVID-19 Updates Email Newsletter.

WHERE TO GET HELP

Partner Agency Network

We continue to coordinate with our Partner Agency Network of food providers. These nonprofit partners hold free food distributions, meals, and other food-related support, and are located across 16 WNC counties. Please refer to this list, which we keep updated with current information on regular food distributions. (Updated 5.29.20 at 4:05 PM)

MANNA Food Helpline

If you are looking for food resources, or if someone you know doesn’t have access to the internet, please call MANNA’s Food Helpline: 1-800-820-1109

The Food Helpline team will help connect you to: partner pantries in your area, school food support, and other community resources for families experiencing an emergency food crisis.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

We are working hard with our hundreds of partners to get food to people across WNC quickly and safely, and you can help. We have three main needs that support food security work in 16 western NC counties: financial donations, volunteers, and food donations.

If you are interested in helping respond to immediate needs, sign up for our Immediate Needs text alert by texting the keyword READY to 828-348-5883.

We are asking that if people want to help, to do the following:

DONATE FUNDS

The most impact you can have is to make a financial gift to MANNA. As many of our regular sources for food donations have been impacted with the pandemic, we are in need of funding to keep acquiring the food that is desperately needed in our community. MANNA is able to stretch a dollar much further than one can at the individual consumer level, because we can source food in bulk quantities (tens of thousands of pounds), we can work with second market food vendors to purchase product at reduced rates, and we can partner with our other food banks to work together on food sources and variety at a national level.

Please make a financial donation to MANNA’s general food distribution work. We are already purchasing additional food resources to provide through our partner agency network, including product for family food boxes.

VOLUNTEER

If you are part of the low risk population, we need your help as a volunteer now more than ever. Volunteers are the driving force behind the daily work at MANNA, and with 50% of our regular volunteers in a high-risk category for the virus, we have a serious need for more hands of support.

You MUST sign up for a shift. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who wants to help with volunteer support. As we are currently following strict health and safety protocols at our warehouses, as well as needing to plan for our daily operations, we need volunteer headcounts in advance. Due to the current circumstances, we will have to turn people away if you are not officially registered for a volunteer shift. So, please sign up! We promise we will put your willing hands to good use. 

Current volunteers: If you are responsibly isolating, and are a regular volunteer with MANNA, please log in to CERVIS and remove your registration for your regular shifts. We are working to address what our daily needs are, and that will help us tremendously!

Groups: If you are a representative of a group interested in volunteering at MANNA, please send an email to volunteering(at)mannafoodbank.org.

We are asking any volunteers who come to MANNA to please:
1. Sign up for a shift on our website.
2. Come at your appointed shift time (5 minutes early, no earlier, no later).
3. Wash your hands on entering the building. You will be asked to wear gloves, which we will provide.

We are employing several new protocols to ensure the safety, health, and well being of all of our volunteers and staff, and are so very appreciative of everyone’s efforts to help out.

DONATE FOOD AND SUPPLIES

Please make healthy shelf stable food donations. We recommend easy to make meals and healthy snacks, like dried nuts and fruit, etc.

We are also in need of sanitizing and cleaning supplies, specifically hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.

All food and supply donations can be dropped off in MANNA’s Main Entrance/Volunteer Center parking lot, next to the ramp. There are currently two large donation bins: one is marked for food, the other for cleaning supplies.

ADVOCATE

Sign up for our monthly newsletter and action alerts, here.

GENERAL UPDATES

Update 3/27/20: NC Governor Cooper issues “Stay At Home” order for the state, effective Monday, March 30, at 5PM. 

MANNA and our partner agencies will continue to operate. Staff and volunteers are excluded from the order when working for MANNA.

Update 3/25/20: Buncombe County orders “Stay Home, Stay Safe” policy.

As a disaster relief and response organization, MANNA FoodBank is considered an essential service, and thus continues operations during a “stay home, stay safe” order. All staff and volunteers are therefore excluded from the “stay home, stay safe” order in their service of the food bank, and can continue working during this time.

Update 3/17/20: Gov. Cooper announces closing of restaurants and bars for dine-in.

Effective 5PM today, restaurants and bars will close for dine-in customers. Takeout and delivery orders can continue. Gov. Cooper and members of the COVID-19 Task Force are holding a media briefing today at 2PM.

This executive order includes an expansion of unemployment benefits to help NC workers affected by COVID-19.

Update 3/14/20: North Carolina Schools are Closing

All North Carolina schools will be closed starting Monday, March 16 through March 30. Schools can apply for a waiver to distribute food to students and their families in a low-contact environment in school cafeterias.

MANNA is connecting to all school districts in our 16-county region to help, and ensure that the impacts of this developing situation don’t hit as hard for the thousands of families who depend on school meals for their children. Currently, in our region, there are over 40,000 children who receive free school meals.

If you are interested in helping with this work, you can make a donation to MANNA to our general food distribution program.

We’re all in this together.

Update 3/13/20: Letter from MANNA’s CEO, Hannah Randall

Dear Friends:

I am writing to update you on MANNA FoodBank’s plan as it relates to the coronavirus (COVID-19). This pandemic is evolving by the hour, and I want to affirm that our top priority is the safety and well-being of our volunteers and staff, our partner programs, and of course the community we serve.

First and foremost: please take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Our personal lives, our professional lives and our world in general are stressful enough without a global health crisis, so we completely understand that this can all be quite a bit to handle at such a rapid pace. The work we all do is certainly important (especially at times like this), but we can’t do our collective work if we aren’t taking care of our own health.

While none of us know exactly what will occur over the next few weeks, we did want to share the following information with you:

  • No person who has traveled internationally within the last 14 days or any person experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 will be allowed into any of our facilities until further notice. Please see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.
  • There is an increasing likelihood that schools in our service area will close in the weeks ahead. If/when that happens, we can expect increased demand at our partner pantries and longer lines at our MANNA Community Market sites.  In the coming days, we will be working with our partners to develop low/no contact food distributions for people experiencing a food crisis.
  • MANNA is already seeing a dramatic decrease in our volunteers. We are developing plans to request lower risk volunteers like college students and others who are symptom free.  For up-to-date information please visit our website: https://www.mannafoodbank.org/covid-19
  • Financial donations are crucial to our ability to meet the need.  To donate, please visit: https://donate.mannafoodbank.org/

These are uneasy times for all of us and for those we serve. The one thing that we do know, though, is that our community always comes together to support our neighbors in need… and this time will be no different. While we expect to experience significant financial and emotional strain in the weeks ahead, our commitment to those we serve remains strong.

We will continue to keep you posted as this crisis unfolds and as we learn more. For up-to-date information please visit our website: https://www.mannafoodbank.org/covid-19.

Gratefully,

Hannah