The MANNA Packs Program reaches out to at-risk elementary school children in Western North Carolina. MANNA works closely with school counselors and administrators 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 (2009-2010 school year as of October 6, 2010):
- 4130 bags of food distributed every Friday
- 128 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