And Where We Can Go Together
We want to take a moment to share a brief update on where we’ve been, a bit about what we’ve learned, and where we are going now. From March 2020 through April 2021, with your help, the MANNA network of volunteers and partner agencies moved an astounding 25,000,000 meals-worth of food to our friends and neighbors across Western North Carolina. When more people than ever in our community needed us, you ensured that we could be there with support, in spite of supply chain challenges, capacity challenges, and the unique challenges brought on by a global pandemic.
There are many important lessons learned, not the least of which is that unequivocally, the strength of our collective human spirit can do what once might have been thought impossible.
Where we are going now includes are continued response to the unique socioeconomic perfect storm our region has faced for a number of years, only to be amplified by the pandemic. The greater Asheville area continues to have the highest cost of living in the state (and well above the national average), while wages in the area are only 84% of the national average. We continue to see the trend of people coming to our partners who are working two jobs and still cannot begin to make ends meet for themselves and their families. The factors contributing to why so many people—especially the working poor, children, and seniors—remain at high risk of food insecurity will require collaborative solutions over time, but for now, we remain determined to be there for anyone who needs food, thanks to you.
An important aspect of our future work is our essential need for a larger facility in which to run our operations. This need was identified prior to the pandemic as we had already hit critical mass in terms of our capacity to store and distribute food, safety concerns over the volume of large trucks entering and exiting our campus, and to increase our efficiencies by operating under one roof. The process of planning and building this new facility has already begun, and we will continue to keep you updated on the progress of this important initiative. For now, we want you to know that we have received a transformative gift that will be the foundational part of funding this essential project.
We will need to continue to rely on the kindness and generosity of caring individuals and partners like you to help carry on our core mission of getting much-needed balance plates of food to our neighbors. While the extreme challenges of the pandemic are showing signs of recovery, the need for food still greatly outpaces pre-pandemic numbers.
Because of this, we are pursuing strategic funding partnerships with trusted foundations who share our vision of a hunger-free WNC to help us build this new facility, so that every gift from our compassionate community of individual supporters can continue to fill the thousands of empty plates we continue to fill each and every month.
Your generous support has given our neighbors the ability to put gas in their cars, pay the electric bill, or pay the rent, and have the peace of mind that food on the table brings all of us. But this road is far from over, and we will need the support of caring individuals like you to be there when families need food. On behalf of the more than 110,000 people we have served each month since the beginning of the pandemic – and the countless people that your support has fed over the years – we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.