Today, as the sun peeks over dreamy blue ridgelines on an early spring morning, thousands of people across the mountains of North Carolina are waking up with a shared mission for the day ahead: ending hunger for people across Western North Carolina. Today, through a vast network of volunteers, businesses, and nonprofits, thousands are stepping forward with a full heart, learning and educating others about the need in their community, and uniting together to make life a little better for their neighbors who are facing an empty plate. Today, across 6,434 square miles of rural mountain terrain, 16 counties—including the Qualla Boundary—dozens of trucks are driving through hundreds of towns and thousands of neighborhoods. Today, an army of people is coming together to ensure that more than the equivalent of 40,000 meals will move across the mountains and onto peoples’ plates.
This massive daily action is happening today and has been happening consistently for 40 years. Now, this extensive network of caring people marks an incredible milestone.
This year, MANNA FoodBank is proudly celebrating 40 years of setting the table together with a compassionate community that makes up the safety net of hunger relief for WNC. MANNA is not just the warehouse from where the food bank operates or the trucks on the road: MANNA is every single person—staff member, warehouse volunteer, food donor, volunteer driver, pantry director, pantry volunteer, helpline volunteer, cash register donor, board member, event host, food drive supporter, artist, and restaurant partner—who has had a hand in helping get food to the many people across WNC who need a hand of support.
Thanks to this extensive network of community compassion, MANNA is happy to announce that we have hit a major milestone in our 40th year: the MANNA network has distributed more than 300 million pounds of food since food distribution first began in 1983. This equates to a staggering 250 million meals provided to people in our region over the last four decades.
Since MANNA began food distributions in 1983, the organization has grown, ever striving to meet the steadily growing need for food for thousands of families working hard every day to make ends meet:
- From 16 nonprofit partner agencies in 1983 to 267 today, the MANNA partner network agencies are the front door and the frontlines of emergency food distribution in communities across the mountains.
- From distributing 42,000 lbs. of food in 1983, MANNA now distributes 42,000+ lbs. daily.
- From the 4,000-square-foot basement at Eliada and using volunteers’ vehicles, MANNA operates from the now bursting-at-the-seams 50,000-square-foot double warehouse on Swannanoa River Road with a fleet of 14 refrigerated trucks and one refrigerated van.
- Since MANNA’s first fresh produce distribution in the early 2000s, fresh food distribution efforts have grown, and more than 27% of the food MANNA now distributes is fresh produce alone.
MANNA will be celebrating these amazing last four decades throughout the year—including a big celebration planned for later this year!—so stay in touch through MANNA’s monthly e-newsletter, Fresh News, and on our social media channels to be the first to know about upcoming events.
HELP SPREAD THE WORD: Share Your MANNA Memories!
MANNA has been touched by so many people and has touched so many lives over these last 40 years. You can help MANNA capture the stories of the many people who have been part of this incredible journey so far by sharing your MANNA memories!
We’re celebrating 40 years of involving, educating, and uniting people in the work of ending hunger in Western North Carolina, and we invite the community to join us as we embark on meaningful celebrations of our history all year long.
One of the first ways you can get involved is by sharing your MANNA memories and stories with us. What does MANNA mean to you? What keeps you coming back to MANNA as a volunteer or supporter year after year? Do you have pictures, stories, or other pieces of MANNA memorabilia to share? We are calling for stories, memories, photos, and video testimonials from you – our community of supporters, partners, volunteers, and neighbors.
Scan the QR code at left, fill out this form, or e-mail your memories to firstname.lastname@example.org and help us honor the rich history of MANNA’s first 40 years. Then, stay tuned for more ways we’ll be marking this milestone throughout the year so you can celebrate MANNA and help us set the table for the next 40 years!