Feed thy neighbor

Over the past 27 years, MANNA FoodBank has established itself as the go-to group for food drives in Western North Carolina. Now, the nonprofit aims to change the way we look at food drives. To that end, MANNA is asking neighborhoods to get in on the action.

Bank on it: MANNA Food Bank is getting neighborhoods in on the action during the fourth installment of MANNAfest. Photo by Jonathan Welch

Inaugurated last fall, MANNAfest — a series of large-scale, seasonal drives that so far have asked schools, businesses and faith organizations to get involved — has already netted 100,000 pounds of food. The summertime leg of the project, which targets WNC's neighborhoods, kicks off Saturday, July 11.

“We are trying to transform 400 food drives into four,” explains Communications and Marketing Coordinator Joshua Stack. The key to that, he says, is enlisting outside groups such as churches and schools as collection sites, and turning donation into an event. Businesses can compete to see how much food they collect, and so can neighborhoods.

“We've gotten good feedback,” Stack reports, “and we are encouraging them to make this fun.”

As in previous drives, communities can set up barrels to collect food though Monday, July 27.

So far, almost 40 distinct entities have signed up, says Food Drive and Volunteer Coordinator Autumn McCarver. They range from gated communities to apartment complexes to retirement communities.

Stack, meanwhile, is hoping this group's donations will top what each of the other three drives brought in, since the amount of food coming in from traditional donors such as grocery stores is waning.

“We're trying to make giving a habit,” he notes. “The cure for hunger is on the shelves of grocery stores. The answer is in the hands of people, and that is a rare thing.”
To register a neighborhood for the MANNAfest food drive, contact Autumn McCarver at 299-3663, ext. 245, or at amcarver@feedingamerica.org.

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