To all of you,
I have been struggling with what to say to you as we meet this unprecedented challenge head on, a challenge that evolves so rapidly that decisions made on one day make no sense on the next, a challenge that has put some of us in abrupt isolation and forced others to be the eyes and hands in our community knowing that the virus is all around us now. But I know at least how to start. And that’s to say that I have never been more thankful for all of the heart and grit that all of you have shown these last few weeks. Yes you, the one with the invisible cape on. I’m talking to each and every one of you who have overhauled everything that we thought that we knew about feeding people to arrive at a completely new (ab)normal.
I think it’s safe to say that the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has rocked every single one of us. And it has rocked our community to its core. Many people are scared and anxious, some are still ambivalent, and some are desperate. You may have personally experienced an entire range of thoughts and feelings yourself or about others as you deal with this often overwhelming and always frustrating change that is upon us. But the people of MANNA- whether you are part of a partner agency, a staff member, a board member, or a volunteer- we keep standing up, even when we get knocked down.
MANNA literally stands for Mountain Area Nutritional Needs Alliance, and that’s what we are, together. We are all a part of this compassionate, imperfect, innovative, and courageous alliance of people who won’t stop until the last one eats. So I need you, we need each other, now more than ever.
I want you to know that at MANNA, we are working tirelessly to bring in funds so that we can bring in food and supplies. To date, we have raised approximately $300,000 in disaster relief funding and every single bit of that (and more) has already been used to place orders for thousands of food boxes and a tractor trailer load of sanitation supplies that are and will be sent out all over WNC as soon as we get it. I need y’all to know that the supply chain for food and supplies has really been locking up so the lead times on orders is longer than normal. At the same time, food donations and therefore inventory have sharply decreased due to the effects of pandemic buying behaviors. We are very concerned about this in the short and long term.
I have been working every day with our sister food banks at Feeding the Carolinas and with the Feeding America National Office to secure state and federal resources so that we can feed the wave of people that are now unemployed and experiencing an emergency food crisis. I believe that we are only at the beginning of this wave, and there may be more changes needed to maximize efficiency to feed more people than ever before.
I want you to know that no matter how hard this gets, I am here for you and so is the rest of our MANNA community. We want to hear if there are things you need help with, but I also want us to share the bright spots together too. Let us know what’s happening with you so that we can help you solve problems and illuminate the realities of this for our elected officials and other decision makers so that everyone can make better decisions together. Call us and tell us how your agency is stepping up to the challenge or how you need extra support. Send us videos and photos of what’s happening with your work or at your agency at
so that even though we can’t all physically be together, we can be together in our focus and resolve.
And one more thing, this is a marathon, not a sprint. At least once a week, take off that invisible cape and just be human. Listen to music, love on your pet or your family, go for a walk, eat that dessert. Pace yourself. We were made for this. I have so much faith in us.
Breathe in faith. Breathe out fear. And repeat.
Chief Executive Officer, MANNA FoodBank