FRESH NEWS March 2020
Monthly News from MANNA FoodBank
March is National Nutrition Month
Addressing the Intersection of Hunger and Health
If you were hungry and had only $5 to spend on food for the day, how would you spend it? Would you buy 5 burgers from a fast food location's dollar menu, or buy a pint of fresh blueberries?

For people facing food insecurity, this is a daily choice. How do families stretch their grocery budgets to have enough? By making choices about how far their money can go. But the implications of food insecurity go further than having to make hard choices about food quality. Food insecure individuals face more health problems, particularly higher rates of chronic disease like high cholesterol and diabetes, because of their economic situation.
This is why MANNA has been focused on providing not only the food our community needs, but the nutritious foods that so many facing food insecurity need. Over the years, our efforts to provide access to nutritious foods have steadily grown.

In this issue, we invite you to explore the many ways in which we are addressing the intersection of hunger and health for our communities across Western North Carolina.

"Let food be thy medicine, and medicine by thy food."
- Hippocrates
"I Love My Leafy Greens"
The Importance of Nutrition in Mountain Towns
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Newland is a beautiful and picturesque small town. The mountains define the skyline, the downtown is a quaint culmination of a few shops and restaurants, and the people go about their day-to-day routines. 

Similar to other mountain towns in WNC, hunger and food insecurity are an issue for many in Newland.

“Food pantries are what keep the people eating out here,” says Willa, a senior citizen residing in Avery County who came by the MANNA Community Market (MCM) at the Old Rock School in Newland on February 13th. 

Although the MCM wasn’t distributing food until 12:00 PM, people began to line up as early as 8:30 AM. By the time the distribution began, hundreds of people already lined the walls of the gymnasium awaiting the opportunity to bring home some nutritious staples. 
"When you’re 73 years old, you get barely any money from the government and you can’t afford healthy foods,” says Willa. “Leaving today, I got enough healthy food to stock my fridge.”

In WNC, 1 in 6 people are food insecure – meaning they are unsure where their next meal is coming from. For children in our region, that number is 1 in 4. While hunger is a problem throughout our entire country, WNC faces the brunt of the issue. In fact, NC ranks in the top ten hungriest states. 

According to Willa, part of the reason food can be a struggle in Newland is because job opportunities are thin – especially for older residents. “No one wants to hire and train someone who is 73. At this point, the only job I could find out here would probably be something where I’m washing dishes, which I physically can’t do.”

Even for those working, putting food on the table is tough.

Connecting Health & Hunger
The Nuts & Bolts of a Healthy Pantry
People experiencing food insecurity face a greater risk of chronic illnesses. Thankfully, diets rich in nutrients can go a long way toward combating diseases and in some cases even replace the need for medication.

That is why MANNA's Nutrition Works team is helping to lead the charge in North Carolina to make sure clients are receiving nutritious foods.

One of the ways Nutrition Works ensures people are able to create a balanced diet is through a partner training program called The Nuts & Bolts of a Healthy Pantry. This training was developed in partnership with North Carolina Extension, the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, and North Carolina State University’s Steps to Health Program, and is aimed at hunger-relief organizations. Throughout this training, Nutrition Works covers the importance of creating a healthy pantry environment, information on the basics of nutrition and chronic disease, and emphasizes the need to build an experience for clients that is enjoyable and allows them to experience healthy food samples to encourage healthier eating choices and habits.

This training is now being utilized by partners across the state to continue addressing the intersection of hunger and health, and the health implications of food insecurity.
What Do I Do With
This Spaghetti Squash?
Recipes for MANNA's Produce
As our focus has increased on the distribution of nutritious food, we have begun to distribute a wider array of produce. Some vegetables clients may be familiar with, while others may be something they've never cooked before. To encourage clients to choose the produce offered, we have created recipe cards depicting innovative and healthy ways of cooking these vegetables.

These recipe cards range from "Spring Creek Dave's Spaghetti Squash Hash" to the popular, "Best Ever Home Fries". Even if clients are familiar with the produce they are picking up, these recipe cards offer an opportunity to try something new and nutritious.

Often times, our Nutrition Works team will travel to food distributions and provide cooking demonstrations of these recipes, so that families have the opportunity to see the process for themselves. To make things even better, clients get to try a sample of the recipe afterwards and see if it is something they enjoy. More often than not, it is!
A Nutritious & Balanced Weekend
All That Goes Into A MANNA Pack
Throughout the 16 counties of WNC, many children rely upon school meals. As the weekend approaches, students can become anxious about whether or not they'll have food to eat over the weekend, when they are away from school meals. To combat this issue, MANNA provides supplemental food for thousands of local school kids at the end of each week in all 16 counties of our service area.

This program, that we call MANNA Packs for Kids, is now in it's 14th year here in WNC, and has grown to reach over 10% of kids in WNC who receive free school meals. In the 2018/2019 fiscal year, MANNA distributed over 5,000 MANNA Packs per week, adding up to more than 173,000 bags of supplemental food last school year.

Our focus on MANNA Packs is working within our funding to make the healthiest choices possible. Our goal is that each MANNA Pack reflects the nutrition standards of MyPlate, the USDA's suggestion on how to create a balanced diet. To do so, we aim to include fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy products and proteins, while cutting down on the amount of sugar and sodium rich foods.

Maintaining a balanced and nutritional diet is essential for children and teenagers as they continue to grow. It is a priority of ours that the MANNA Packs we distribute each week reflects a healthy balance of calorie-dense and nutrient-dense foods, so WNC students have the energy and nutrients they need to grow and thrive.
Driving Nutrition Home
MANNA's Mobile Programs Promote Healthy Diets for Clients throughout WNC
MANNA's mobile distribution programs, such as MANNA Express and the MANNA Community Market, are instrumental in not only getting food out to residents of WNC, but making sure that everyone has access to fruits, vegetables and other important pieces of produce.

Our day of distribution mobile program, MANNA Express paved the way for the implementation of pop-up markets starting in July, 2018. After a year of successful programming, we launched our MANNA Community Market in November of 2019.

Since MANNA began hosting markets in July, 2018, we have distributed over 730,000 pounds of food through our mobile programs.

The MANNA Community Market is supported by:
Thermo Fisher Scientific
Since MANNA expanded our facilities to handle an increased amount of fresh and frozen foods, we have maintained a commitment to supporting the more than 200 members of our Partner Agency Network with the capacity to accept and distribute this fresh food.

This would not be possible without the vital support of our partner, Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Over the years, they have donated hundreds of refrigeration and freezer units that we have been able to place with our partner network. Their partnership has helped to quite literally change what ends up on our neighbors' plates across WNC, and helps keep fresh produce, dairy, meat, and other important grocery staples accessible to families across WNC.

Thermo Fisher Scientific is also a 2019 Full Plate Partner - last year, they engaged with MANNA in three important ways to help feed our region. Their support through their employee food drive and packing event, their funding support, and their volunteering efforts has helped feed thousands of people!
Fresh Food Donors
We'd like to thank the following organizations for collectively donating nearly one million pounds of fresh produce over the first half of this current fiscal year:

  • Legacy Produce

  • Quality First Produce
Supporters of our Food Distribution Program
We would like to thank these wonderful foundations for their support our Food Distribution program:
  • Bank of America Charitable Foundation

  • Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation

  • Duke Energy Foundation

  • State Farm Companies Foundation

  • TD Charitable Foundation

  • Wells Fargo Foundation
February Food Drives
We want to thank the following groups and organizations for their efforts in collecting food drive donations to help fill the plates of our neighbors across WNC:
  • Asheville Mardi Gras: 222 lbs.
  • Avatar Meher Baba Asheville Group: 796 lbs.
  • Carolina Day School: 654 lbs.
  • Carolina Mornings, Inc.: 36 lbs & 314 meals
  • Climbax Climbing: 70 lbs.
  • Conscious Alliance: 921 lbs.
  • In His Steps Dance Ministry - Church of the Resurrection: 300 meals
  • Valley Springs Middle School 7x7 Project: 278 lbs.
  • Whittington Chiropractic: 504 lbs.
Volunteer for
Rotarians Against Hunger
On Saturday, March 21, Rotary Clubs from across WNC will be hosting their 11th Annual Rotarians Against Hunger Food Packing Event at Reuter Family YMCA in Biltmore Park. Rotarians Against Hunger plan on packing thousands of meals during this event, so they will need as many volunteers as they can get!
If you’re interested, the volunteer shifts are as follows: 

First Shift – 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Second Shift – 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Third Shift – 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM 
Take Down & Clean Up – 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM

To register to volunteer, click here

You can find more information on Rotarians Against Hunger, here
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.