Barbara watched “Manny,” a mobile pop-up pantry and kitchen, drive through her street and she was curious to check out the bus. She was welcomed on board by Manna Food Center’s community food education volunteers who announced the pantry was open and free to all in the neighborhood. Stepping on board, Barbara sized up the rack of fresh produce and spotted the perfect bundle of collard greens for her neighbor. She’s excited to bring the fresh greens, peppers, tomatoes, and guacamole to share with her neighbor as she recovers from recent surgery. “She can’t get out to the bus because of her health and age,” Barbara shares.
This scene plays out across Montgomery County as Manny travels into communities where neighbors are struggling with food insecurity. Despite being one of the wealthiest counties in Maryland, one in 15 residents is unsure when and where her next meal will come from; this includes thousands of school children. Manna’s mission is to bring essential food support to county residents facing hunger.
For Barbara and her neighbors, Manna Food Center provides residents with nutritious food, life skills, and support. Through Manna’s Food to Farm Bank program, participants gain access to more locally grown produce. Manna’s Smart Sacks program partners with community groups and MCPS to provide 2,900 elementary children with a weekend bag of food items. And Manna has expanded its food network to support a healthier planet through Community Food Rescue, an innovative program to collect unused food from restaurants and farmers to share with supporting agencies.
Manna offers several community distribution locations to pick up a monthly assortment of shelf-stable and fresh produce food items. Manna’s 21 distribution locations includes Silver Spring United Methodist Church at Four Corners (formerly Marvin Memorial UMC). Manna hosts choice pantries every second and fourth Saturday of the month at Silver Spring UMC and every fourth Friday at Colesville Presbyterian Church.
Manna’s choice pantries empower participants to select from a variety of food items that support their health and well-being. In a few short months, Manna Food Center will open a new center in East County to serve more neighbors in need and create a community hub for education and training. Manna’s new office and choice market will open near Tech Road, just off of Colesville Road/Route 29.
If you’re interested in volunteering with Manna Food Center, call 301.424.1130 or visit www.mannafood.org.
[Whittaker is Communications Manager at Manna Food Center.] ■
© 2019 NFCCA [Source: https://nfcca.org/news/nn201906i.html]