FRESH NEWS May 2020
Monthly News from MANNA FoodBank | SPECIAL EDITION
In Times of Great Adversity...
Great People Arise & Come Together
Hello MANNA Friends.

We hope this message finds you and yours safe and well amidst this unimaginable crisis. It's clear that we all share great concerns about the public health and economic crisis that our region and our world are experiencing. Our shared concerns include both the immediate and long-term impacts in the lives and livelihoods of so many of our neighbors and friends across Western North Carolina.

We are dedicating this edition of our Fresh News to our response to the pandemic. We want to share with you all a brief summary of our collective response over the past eight weeks, and a few amazing examples of the tremendous ways that our community has and is coming together to rise up for those in need across our region. And lastly, we want to share what we anticipate for the long road ahead.
Mid-March:
When the Need Changed Overnight
As the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis hit hard in mid-March, MANNA went into rapid disaster relief response mode, transforming nearly every aspect of our day-to-day operations. The necessary closings of non-essential businesses and schools plunged many people across our region into a financial crisis overnight. 

As a result, we experienced a dramatic spike in the number of people who found themselves in need of our assistance. In a matter of days, the lines of people at the 220+ pantries that we support across our 16-county region reached record numbers. Many of whom, for the first time in their lives, finding themselves in need of our vital support.

To protect the health and safety of all and in strict adherence to all CDC recommendations, it was also necessary for MANNA to change our method of food distribution to providing balanced, family meal boxes. This method of distribution creates a low- to no-contact means of food delivery to the people. Therefore, the combination of the significantly increased numbers of individuals and their families needing food along with our regular food donation sources almost disappearing overnight and our new low-contact food distribution methods make it necessary for MANNA to purchase more food now than ever before.

Another critical aspect of our work that significantly changed was our volunteer base. So many of our amazing core, weekly volunteers are in a higher risk category, and therefore for their health and safety, we urged them to honor the Stay Home-Stay Safe mandate during this pandemic. Thankfully, we have had an outpouring of support from low-risk residents who are stepping in to help during this crisis. 
Weekly Volunteers:
We miss you, and look forward to when all of you can safely come back!
The Current Gravity of Need
To put the gravity of need in perspective, Asheville is 9th in the nation in terms of mid-size cities with the most leisure, hospitality and retail workers. Therefore, as a tourism-driven area, many of the key industries that are economic drivers for our beautiful region are among the hardest hit, and this includes their dedicated workforce. (Volusion, 4.20.20).

We have heard countless stories from our closest friends in the culinary, craft beverage, hospitality, artisan, and merchant communities faced with the heartbreaking reality of suddenly having to furlough their staff. They are facing deep concerns about their ability to reopen their businesses once this unthinkable crisis subsides. 
Consequently, calls to our MANNA Food Helpline have increased by 167% in the past 7 weeks, with people desperately seeking emergency food, assistance with SNAP applications, and other essential resources. Our dedicated helpline staff and volunteer core have stepped up to assist people from across the region, providing both resources and hope in this crisis.

Our experiences at our MANNA Community Market (mobile pantry) distributions are real time, poignant examples of the dramatically increased need across our network. In recent weeks, we have seen record numbers of people served. A few examples include a 66% increase in Avery County, 36% increase in Macon County, 48% in Graham, 49% in the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, 63% in Swain, and 49% in Henderson at our mobile markets alone.

Even more poignant and striking than the percentages are the personal stories that we are hearing from all of the people who are facing this stark reality. Workers who were able to get by one day, and the next found themselves without a job or a savings account; elderly grandparents raising their grandchildren who are now home from school all day. People with pre-existing illnesses that place them at high risk and no longer able to go to work; dedicated service industry staff having to go home to their family of four to share they had no job or paycheck. Our hearts go out to each and every one and we have boundless gratitude that because of all of you, we are able to be there for them.
MANNA's Incredible Volunteer and Partner Network Response

We are deeply humbled and grateful to share with you that to date, and throughout this pandemic, only a small fraction of our over 220+ partner agencies found it necessary to close. Most of those who did close were private food pickup sites not open to the public (such as daycare centers, group homes, and after-school programs).  

This unwavering commitment of our partner network to be there for their neighbors during this unprecedented crisis has been absolutely incredible. In fact, many of our partner agencies not only kept their operations running but increased their hours or days of distributions to show up for our neighbors in crisis. We cannot say enough about the heart, resiliency and determination of thousands of volunteers who directly serve our clients across WNC. 
Now More Than Ever...
We Couldn't Do It Without You
In times of great adversity, we are reminded that what seems impossible, is possible when we all come together. And you are.

Within a few days of COVID-19 being classified as a national emergency, we have received an unbelievable outpouring of support from caring individuals across our communities, foundation partners, local businesses, corporate partners, and other organizations all asking how they can help. And you have.

From acts of kindness, like the Asheville Quilt Guild and others feverishly sewing cloth masks to protect our staff and volunteers; to foundations providing funding for truck loads of much needed food; to generous individuals generously opening their pockets; to kind people anonymously dropping off food donations on our doorstep the outpouring of support has been immediate. Truthfully, this support has literally put food on the tables of thousands of households. Every bit of support has been desperately needed, and put to quick use.
It would be impossible to list the myriad of incredible ways that people from across all sectors of our communities have given of their resources, hearts and time to help our neighbors in need. Suffice it to say that our hearts and souls are overflowing with gratitude for the difference that each and all are making in the lives of people across our 16 counties.
A Special Thanks to MANNA Volunteer Drivers

Amidst this crisis, our hats are off to our extraordinary volunteer driving team who has continued to take deliveries of vital perishable foods directly out to people in need across our 6,434 square mile region.

We are so grateful.
Strongest Together:
The Long Road Ahead
We are all well aware of the uncertainty ahead in terms of how long it will take us to move safely out of this public health crisis. What we do know is that the profound economic crisis created by the pandemic will require a long road to recovery. Therefore, we are planning ahead in terms of how we will be able to continue to serve all those who will be depending on us for food.

As demonstrated in amazing ways throughout this unprecedented crisis, we are strongest together . Therefore, with your faithful support, along with that of so many others, we believe that we will be able to continue to serve all those who turn to us over the many months ahead.

On behalf of those we are and will serve, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Stay Connected with MANNA on Social Media
In the age of social distancing, we are all turning more to social media for engagement and connection.

MANNA continues to keep social media channels updated with news, information, community needs, and community resources. Join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay in touch.

We love to see the great things people are doing to help - there's no action too small - so please share your part in this work by tagging MANNA when you post!
RECOGNITION + THANK YOU
Celebrating a Three-Decades Long Partnership to Feed WNC
We are celebrating our phenomenal, local 35+ year partnership with Ingles Markets. Through our Reclaim Center, this amazing partnership is woven into the fabric of our day-to-day operations.

In fact, Ingles' support of MANNA has translated into a staggering amount of food: This has helped provide 3,956 meals, every single day of the year, for over 30 years!

We would like to thank the following organizations for helping MANNA amidst the COVID-19 pandemic:
  • Ameriprise Financial
  • Avery Dennison Foundation
  • Bank of America Foundation
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation
  • Community Foundation of Henderson
  • Community Foundation of WNC
  • Dogwood Health Trust
  • Dominion Energy
  • Duke Energy Foundation
  • Feeding America
  • Fisher Family Foundation
  • Globus Medical, Inc
  • Jeff Bezos
  • Mitchell Community Health Partnership
  • Pisgah Investments
  • Pisgah Health Foundation
  • Publix Supermarket Charities
  • State Employees Credit Union
  • Woodforest Bank Foundation
Every bit of support we have received has gone out to our community in the form of food, but your support is also providing desperately needed hope to our community. We are deeply grateful for the quick response by funders, individuals, and other organizations who have stepped up to help us keep food on our neighbors' plates.
Rotarians Against Hunger Support Helps Provide The Staples for First Round of Family Food Boxes
Last month, on a beautiful Saturday, we were supposed to participate in the annual Rotarians Against Hunger packing event. This yearly event helps provide tens of thousands of meals every year of staple foods for the many families needing help across WNC. Due to the risk of having so many people gathered together, the organizing rotary clubs made the tough decision to cancel the large-scale packing event.

But the Rotarians still donated every pound of the 70,000(!!) pounds of rice and black beans that were to be packed at the event directly to MANNA, where volunteers got to work packing immediately. The timing was perfect: this product created the foundation for the first several thousand family food boxes that we have sent out through our active partner agency network of emergency food distributed.

To each WNC rotary club, and every single individual rotarian who helped out with this effort: you have our deepest gratitude.
Your Voice Matters:
Advocate for those experiencing poverty.

MANNA's mission is to involve, educate, and unite people in the work of ending hunger, and an important part of this mission is advocating for those living in and experiencing the effects of poverty.

As a non-partisan organization, dedicated to sharing information about the issues affecting the people we serve together, MANNA does not endorse political parties or candidates. We simply ask people to work with our elected officials to make legislation that works for us all, and makes our region, our state, and our country stronger from the ground up.

If you are interested in receiving advocacy-related emails from MANNA FoodBank, please click the button below. By clicking here, you are signing up to receive information from MANNA about ways you can use your voice, and actions you can take, to help work towards our vision of a hunger-free Western North Carolina.
Give. Volunteer. Advocate.