MANNA FoodBank has plans to undergo a facilities redesign project in mid-April to improve the efficiency and capacity of our two buildings. The redesign will improve the workflow within our warehouse, and increase our ability to acquire healthy food.
MANNA has doubled the amount of food distributed throughout the mountains over the past eight years; in 2013 we distributed 12.8 million pounds of food last year, enough for 29,000 meals a day. 2.9 million pounds of that food was fresh fruits and vegetables.
The economic downturn of 2008 brought a significant and sustained increase in demand for food assistance across our region. In addition to improving our processes to help those in need in real time, our board and staff began to discuss how we could not only meet the current demand, but also be prepared to distribute even more food if the crisis continued.
Food industry leaders from Ingles Markets, Walmart, and The Beacon Group of Tewksbury, MA stepped forward to donate their time and expertise in our endeavor to become more efficient. Facility and production flow experts observed our warehouse activities over the course of several days. The analysis and brain-storming for solutions with professionals outside of the food banking and non-profit world gave us new insight on our organization. Every review arrived at the same conclusion: renovating our current site is the best and most cost-efficient option.
Plans call for adding about 4,000 square feet of space, which will include critically needed freezer and cooler space. MANNA has 45,000 square feet of space now, and the addition will allow us to increase our food storage space by 24%.
“Our freezer and cooler space will be increased substantially,” says Cindy Threlkeld, MANNA’s executive director. “The additional space will allow us to acquire, keep, and distribute more fresh fruit, vegetables and protein and better serve the people in our region.”