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Manna FoodBank - Agency Spotlight

Partnerships that Fill Plates

It’s easy to understand what you can see, but every year more than 100,000 people across Western North Carolina face something hidden in plain sight: hunger.

In Haywood County alone, one in six people don’t know where their next meal will come from. Behind these staggering statistics are resilient individuals facing down serious circumstances, struggling through situations that frequently leave their most basic needs unmet. But in partnership with 18 hunger relief nonprofits in Haywood County, MANNA is helping to make sure that the basic need for food is met for as many people as possible.

One of these resilient individuals is Marie. She is in her early 80s, and has lived on her own for the last 18 years since her husband passed away. Social Security is the only income she has now, but it is not enough. With this and her health issues, Marie has to make daily trade-offs: Does she buy her medicine, or does she eat a meal? Does she go to the grocery store, or does she pay her electric bill?

Luckily, the Community Kitchen in Canton is there to help. Marie makes regular visits, and because MANNA continues to source and distribute healthy foods, like fresh produce, Marie has access not just to food, but to healthy options. Visiting the pantry means she can dedicate some of her limited income to other important expenses.

“It makes it a little bit easier so I don’t have to scrape and scratch so hard,” Marie said about coming to the pantry. “This food helps immensely.”

The Community Kitchen is one of 18 food relief partners MANNA currently works with in Haywood County. Through this partnership network, MANNA brings in more than 1,000,000 pounds of food into Haywood County each year for people just like Marie, and these partner agencies—the front lines in the work to address hunger, person by person—distribute this food into their immediate communities.

Because hunger is such a serious issue for so many, over the years, MANNA has worked to create other avenues to get food onto peoples’ plates. For the one in four children who face an empty plate in Haywood County, MANNA partners with 15 Haywood County schools and the dedicated members of the Waynesville Rotary Club to distribute hundreds of MANNA Packs every week of the school year. MANNA Packs are supplemental bags of food that students take home on Friday afternoons, to sustain them through what could be a hungry weekend away from the free school meal program. And in the last year, MANNA has hosted three community pop-up markets, where residents took home more than 17,000 pounds of free food to help stretch their grocery budgets.

Local partnerships make all of this work possible. Thanks to the dedication of local nonprofits, schools, and members of the Haywood community who work hard and volunteer their time, we will continue to be there with the food people need, right when they need it, so that together we can all grow a healthier community.

About MANNA FoodBank
MANNA FoodBank is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving 16 counties of Western North Carolina since 1983. An accredited member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization, the mission of MANNA FoodBank is to involve, educate, and unite people in the work of ending hunger in Western North Carolina. MANNA partners with over 200 community-based non-profit food assistance agencies in 16 Western North Carolina counties and distributed 18.2 million pounds of food in 2017/2018. For more information, visit, or call 828-299-FOOD.