The MANNA Packs for Kids program is one of several ways we work to provide food for the 38,000 children in Western North Carolina who don’t have access to three square meals a day. MANNA works closely with school counselors and administrators throughout our region who become our eyes and ears to recognize when students and their family members may be in need of healthy food over the weekend.
Schools are encouraged to handle bag distribution personally and confidentially and have their own procedures to accomplish this. Most counselors call the children into their office one at a time. They use that time as a “check-in” with children about many issues – school, home life, or whatever the child wants to discuss.
To help these families, MANNA provides children a large bag (5 pounds) of supplemental food items, fresh fruits and vegetables and/or personal care items each Friday that schools are in session.
Success by the numbers (2012-2013 school year updated 2/13):
- An average of 4,600 bags of food distributed weekly
- 132 schools served in 16 WNC counties
Here are some testimonials about the importance of this program to the families that benefit from this direct service.
“Our schools participating in MANNA Packs have made this a school-wide project. The folks from maintenance and custodial departments, teacher assistants, office personnel, have taken this on as a way of building community in our schools. It has been a phenomenal way to proceed with what it takes to help our students.” Morgen Houchard, Executive Director of Personnel, Curriculum and Public Information, Mitchell County Schools
“Many of my students have told me that the food they get from the MANNA Packs Program on Fridays was what they had to eat for the weekend. I have seen an increase in student optimism because of this program. The parents truly appreciate the help and the families really do use the food. This program has also increased awareness among our faculty and staff about the issues of poverty and hunger.” Shirley Humphrey, School Counselor, Emma Elementary School, Buncombe County
“Without this program students would go hungry. I had a Senior boy tell me that this was the first time that he was not hungry on the weekends! Thank you!!!!” – School Administrator.
“Our school has 92% of our students participating in the free or reduced lunch program. Our families are working minimum pay jobs and many have limited English skills. We also have lots of families that consists of grandparents caring for our students. These families struggle to provide their children with every basic need. The MANNA food gives these children food that is easy to prepare for the weekend when parents may be working. And, it is that extra boost to the pantry of these families as they try to fulfill this basic need.” – School Administrator.