Founded in 1982, MANNA FoodBank links the food industry with 328 partner agencies in 16 counties of Western North Carolina. MANNA FoodBank works to involve, educate, and unite people in the work of ending hunger in Western North Carolina. MANNA collects, stores, warehouses and distributes food to MANNA accredited non profits throughout 16 counties in Western North Carolina. MANNA provides direct service on a very limited basis to those struggling with hunger through our BackPack Program and Food Stamp Outreach. MANNA assists partner agencies with acquiring food to serve those facing hunger.
Manna foodbank serves as the central food sourcing and distribution center for more than 200 nonprofit partner agencies that provide food assistance throughout manna's 16-county western north carolina service area. Our service area encompasses 6,434 miles with many of our communities in rural and under-served locations with high food insecurity rates. Therefore to ensure that those in need receive food, we deliver to even the most remote locations on a regular basis. The counties manna serves are: avery, buncombe, cherokee, clay, graham, haywood, henderson, jackson, macon, madison, mcdowell, mitchell, polk, swain, transylvania, and yancey county. These diverse communities also have diverse needs and available resources, but the common issues of high housing costs, lack of public transportation, and stagnant wage growth are pervasive, resulting in a growing need for food for over 100,000 people living throughout the region. In wnc, 1 in 6 people, and 1 in 4 children, are food insecure. Food distribution: due to increasing need for food assistance, in fy 17/18, manna foodbank had another record-breaking year, distributing 18.2 million pounds of food, enough to provide 15.2 million meals. Manna and the partner agency network distributed the equivalent of 41,000 meals every day of the year. Manna recognizes that nutritious food is the cornerstone of overall health and well-being, and worked diligently to increase the amount of nutritionally dense food distributed to partner agencies. In fy 17/18, 68% of the food that manna distributed was classified as foods to encourage which consist of healthy staples like whole grains, proteins, dairy, fresh/frozen vegetables and fruits. Over 30% of food distributed was fresh produce. In order to address the intersection between food insecurity and health risks, manna has built on the success of nutrition-focused programs targeting increased access to fresh and healthy foods across our service area. Our three-prong approach to our health initiatives includes: 1.increasing the nutritional content of the food made available to our clients 2. Empowering clients to access and consume more nutritionally dense food, and 3. Building impactful partnerships within the health system, including clinics and other health-focused organizations who interface with our clients. Manna foodbank partners with over 200 agencies to distribute food, including food pantries, shelters, community kitchens, church ministries, and other community organizations offering emergency food assistance for wnc residents struggling with hunger - especially children, families, seniors, veterans, disabled persons, and growing numbers of the working poor. Manna coordinators provide resources, support and guidance to all of our partner agencies ensuring that they adhere to national safe serv standards as well as feeding america's specific food safety standards for food banks. Manna foodbank boasts a 4-star rating from charity navigator for 7 consecutive years - the highest rating possible from the independent nonprofit rating organization. Nationally, manna foodbank ranks in the top 4% of nonprofits for fiscal responsibility and effectiveness. This high rating is a result of an unwavering dedication to stewardship, and to a robust volunteer program. In fy 17/18, 7,012 volunteers served 73,729 hours in a variety of volunteer roles. This is the equivalent of 37 full-time staff members and helps manna continue to prioritize financial resources toward providing food. The variety of volunteer roles also increased: manna now utilizes volunteers in every department. The volunteer roles range from sorting produce and packing bulk foods, packing and delivering manna packs for kids, picking orders in the warehouse for partner agencies, sorting large donations from food industry donors, educating the public on manna's work via ambassadors, taking calls through the food helpline, partner agency outreach and monitoring, and a variety of administrative tasks. Volunteers help manna keep overhead costs low and ensure that for every dollar donated, manna can help provide the food for 3.5 meals.
Manna packs for kids is a direct-food assistance program partnering with 149 schools across our 16 county service area. Each week, volunteers pack and distribute an average of 5,187 bags of food to school children who are food insecure and rely on free meal plans to have enough to eat. Each bag contains snacks and meals to last over the weekend when these food-insecure children do not have enough to eat. In fy 17/18, a total of 186,716 manna packs were distributed to children on the free school meal program. In the summer months, manna distributed bags of food with a week's worth of nourishment to an average of 1,213 children through the summer pack program in 10 counties, providing much needed food assistance while children are out of school and away from the vital school meal program.
Fns outreach is a direct assistance program that assists households struggling to afford groceries with access to food resources. The fns outreach program connects households to a manna partner agency for immediate food support, as well as assisting individuals with signing up for snap (supplemental nutrition assistance program), the country's most effective anti-hunger program (formerly called food stamps). Snap support can help a family survive a crisis of unemployment, poor health, or other hardships that can trigger a downward spiral into poverty. In fy 17/18 manna's fns outreach team provided assistance to 2,234 households needing help applying for or recertifying for snap. This includes assisting people at partner agencies, and through manna's fns helpline, which is run by manna staff and highly trained volunteers who provide over-the-phone assistance to people in need across the region. In fy 17/18, helpline staff provided assistance to 6,465 callers. The privacy and convenience of the helpline service overcomes numerous barriers for individuals in need, including transportation, work schedule constraints, physical disabilities, etc. That may prevent people from accessing the help that they need in person. Manna partners with the department of health and human services office in every county of the service region to provide this streamlined support.