Ending Hunger in Western North Carolina

Our Mission

MANNA FoodBank’s mission is to involve, educate, and unite people in the work of ending hunger in Western North Carolina.

Our Impact

Thanks to a strong community of donors, volunteers, and food donors, MANNA stretches every resource possible to provide food to more than 100,000 people facing food insecurity across the region, and can provide FOUR MEALS for every $1 donated.

What We Do

Food Distribution

MANNA collects, stores, warehouses, and distributes food to dedicated, accredited nonprofit partners throughout 16 counties in Western North Carolina, including the Qualla Boundary. In 2020-2021, MANNA and the MANNA Partner Agency Network distributed over 25.5 million lbs. of food to families across WNC.

Where Does the Food Come From?

MANNA relies on the food industry, the state and federal government, as well as local corporate and individual donors, for sourcing the food that is then passed into the hands of our WNC neighbors.

Prior to the pandemic, most of the food MANNA received was donated; other food sources include partnerships with the federal and state government, local farmers, food drives, and food that we purchase on second markets in bulk.

This food is sorted and culled by thousands of MANNA volunteers, and then delivered to hundreds of partners across the region who are part of the MANNA Partner Agency Network. These agencies include pantries, soup kitchens, emergency food suppliers, faith-based organizations, and other nonprofits who provide this food directly to members of their community, free of charge. As the need in our region has continued to grow, so has the amount of food that goes through our warehouse and to the tables of the people who need it most. MANNA regularly provides emergency food support to more than 100,000 people every year through these food distribution efforts.

MANNA also works to build and deepen relationships with local and national produce donors rescue produce that might otherwise be thrown away. Our efforts to provide more fresh produce has resulted in millions of pounds of perfectly good food redirected from the landfill to fill families’ plates instead.

Where Does the Food Go?

MANNA distributes food throughout WNC through a partner network of more than 200 agencies in 16 counties including the Qualla Boundary. We work through a network of partner agencies that distributes the food directly to families in their community according to their individual programs.

Food Access Programs

MANNA provides direct service on a limited basis to those struggling with hunger through our Feeding Children programs, providing MANNA Packs and Summer Packs, and our MANNA Food Helpline, which provides support for people signing up for Food and Nutrition Services (FNS, formerly known as food stamps), or needing access to a food distribution location in their area.

Feeding Children: MANNA Packs and Summer Packs for Kids

Working families are struggling to regain their foothold in this post-recession economy. Western North Carolina families and residents face a socio-economic “perfect storm”: housing costs around the greater Asheville area are the highest in the state, forcing people to live in more rural areas; our region’s economy is driven largely by lower-paying service and seasonal employment; transportation challenges in and around rural, remote communities, forcing people to drive long distances to secure employment; and skyrocketing child and healthcare costs placing tremendous strain on working families. Despite their best efforts, many families can’t afford all the food their children need for healthy, normal development. 1 in 4 children in our service area don’t have access to three square meals a day.

The MANNA Packs for Kids program provides emergency food assistance to public school students throughout all 16 counties in our service area who receive free school meals.  MANNA works closely with WNC schools to identify at-risk student populations.  In the 2020/2021 fiscal year, MANNA provided 107,578 weekend packs to children across WNC.

Outreach

MANNA Food Helpline 

The Helpline is a virtual call center for assistance with Food and Nutrition Services applications and re-certifications over the phone. The Helpline is operated by staff and trained volunteers, and designed to help people navigate the process of applying for Food and Nutrition Services benefits. This innovative direct service program is especially targeted at seniors and working families trying to make ends meet on a limited budget.

For many individuals and families throughout Western North Carolina, every dollar counts. Food and Nutrition Services (FNS, North Carolina’s name for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and formerly known as “food stamps”) is an important resource helping to put food on the table. FNS is an assistance program that allows people with little or no income to buy nutritious food. It can help a family survive a crisis of employment, poor health, or other hardships that can trigger a downward spiral into poverty, and is the most effective program for helping families escape poverty. In 2020/2021, MANNA’s outreach efforts assisted 1,580 households with FNS applications, and provided food access support and information to more than 12,500 people contacting our Food Helpline.

The program also helps strengthen the local economy and boost jobs in the farm and retail sectors and beyond.  It is estimated that in 2020/2021, MANNA  provided an estimated 966,207 meals through FNS application support, with a value of $2,821,323 that generates $4,344,838 in total local economic impact.