The Two Year “MANNA-versary” of MANNA Community Markets
Two years ago, MANNA began a new and innovative program, which sought to reach neighbors experiencing food insecurity throughout the deepest pockets of Western North Carolina. Recognizing how difficult it can be for many people living in rural and mountainous regions to access food, we knew we needed to take action to make it easier for families and bring food directly to them through MANNA Community Markets (MCMs).
Our MCMs deliver free food throughout WNC to regions experiencing high levels of food insecurity. Working alongside local community organizations and caring volunteers, our refrigerated truck arrives to a designated site and works with volunteers to set up a farmers’ market-style distribution.
Each and every MCM emphasizes fresh and nutrient-dense food. Clients have the opportunity to bring home shelf-stable foods, dairy-products, assorted grocery and household items, meats, as well as produce. According to Carol Fazioli, MANNA’s Nutrition Works Program Manager, “MCMs distribute a variety of fresh produce rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Even throughout the winter, we prioritize cold weather produce, which help maintain a strong immune system and reduce the risk of chronic diseases including diabetes, hearth disease and cancer.”
With your support, in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, MCMs distributed an astonishing 1,506,935 pounds of food to our neighbors throughout WNC. Over 341,000 pounds of that food was fresh fruits and vegetables!
MCMs, however, offer more than just food. Many of our MCMs coordinate with various local organizations to offer additional services that address areas of need for each community. Nutrition Works provide recipes on how to prepare the food clients are taking home from the market, while hosting in-person cooking demos. MANNA also provides information on our Food Helpline and SNAP enrollment for all clients. We also work with partners to provide services, such as support with affordable housing, utility assistance, public transportation, and many others. In fact, throughout the pandemic, MCMs have worked with local health centers to offer clients COVID-19 vaccines.
True to the original intent of the MCM program, we have partnered with organizations to provide food assistance for communities experiencing high rates of food insecurity in WNC. Many of our current MCMs are hosted in cooperation with Latinx organizations, such as Hola Carolina and Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción (CIMA), and provide food for Latinx communities throughout WNC. We’re also proud to partner with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, offering regular markets for tribe members living in the Qualla Boundary.
In just two years, our MCM program has expanded to fifteen regular monthly markets in 11 of the 16 counties we serve (in addition to regular markets we host in partnership with Buncombe County), thanks to the work of our operations team, community partners, and faithful volunteers.
Thanks to you and all of our supporters these past two years, MANNA Community Markets have been able to distribute millions of pounds of food and an immeasurable amount of hope to families throughout WNC. Looking ahead, we will continue working to address food disparity across the mountains, and are energized to continue providing food support to all WNC communities impacted by hunger.