Generating Hope to End Hunger
Manna Food Bank, Inc. dba Manna Food Pantries
The mission of Manna Food Pantries (Manna) is to offer emergency food assistance, service the food-related needs of vulnerable populations, and engage the entire community in the fight against hunger. In 1982, a local study concluded that there was a need for a centralized clearinghouse for the collection, storage and distribution of non-perishable food items to individuals and families in emergency situations. Community leaders responded by incorporating the Manna Food Bank. A Board of Directors was established, start-up monies were raised, inventories amassed, and an operations staff was hired. The Manna Food Pantries opened its doors to serve clients on January 3, 1983 as a local, grassroots 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting hunger in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. All services are offered free of charge, and Manna receives no government funding and has no national affiliation. Most funding comes from individuals, foundations, faith-based organizations, corporations, and businesses. Manna is nonsectarian, community focused and volunteer supported organization that believes every person has a right to live without hunger and be treated with respect and dignity. Manna now operates three food pantries and nine specialty programs in the two-county area.
If Manna and the general public lose power for just a few days, all refrigerated and frozen foods would be lost without the support of a generator. In the dry food supply, weevils have the potential to develop in those products that are exposed to excess heat. Canned food items would be subject to humidity, sweating and eventually rust. For Manna, that’s a potential loss of up to 30,000 pounds of food. In total, Manna is subject to an inventory loss of 100,000-200,000 pounds of food in the event of a power outage. That is 133,000-266,000 meals that would have been provided to those in need. The greatest concern would be that heat-related health risks to staff and volunteers associated with extreme temperatures in the warehouse. With the support of IMPACT 100, Manna Food Pantries will purchase and install a natural gas generator to support the electrical load of the E Street facility in the event of power outage. IMPACT 100 grant funds will be used for a generator and transfer switch, crane and concrete pad, concrete masonry unit wall, paving/concrete, and a portion of the construction materials. The generator will allow Manna to be fully functional with regular emergency food assistance in the event of a natural disaster, when the community may be at its most vulnerable.
In 2018, Manna served a total of 13,533 people including 8,436 families. Forty-two percent were children, 30% were seniors, 11% were military, and 5% were homeless. With a power outage and loss of inventory, the challenge to replenish the food supply from impacted community donors would be great. Food insecurity, already a significant issue in this region with levels higher than the national average, would be made worse in times of power outage. When families who already struggle to keep food on the table lose groceries due to power outage, the setback is greater. For community members who already need assistance or are barely making ends meet, the loss of the limited amount of food they have can be devastating, and they will need further assistance immediately. The purchase and installation of a generator will provide full support of the organization’s electric grid during a power outage to support Manna’s entire facility, giving Manna the capability of continued healthy food distribution, supporting neighbors in need without interruption and contributing to the improved physical well-being of people living in the Pensacola Bay area.