When Manna’s doors first opened 33 years ago last month, elected officials were present at the creation. Several months before, County Executive Charles Gilchrist, had convened a task force to address the needs of low income and hungry neighbors. Staff from the Department of Health and Human Services, then headed by Chuck Short, now Special Assistant to County Executive Leggett, took a lead role in creating what became Manna Food Center. We are grateful for the foundational vision of politicians and civil servants who shaped Manna’s mission. Today, with the passing of the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, we continue our appreciation for the leadership that made funding of several core programs possible. While public funding constitutes only about 20% of Manna’s total revenue, it is essential to our ability to work toward a hunger free Montgomery County.
“We are also beefing up our safety net with an increase in the Working Parents Assistance program’s subsidies for child care; an increase for initiatives for homeless veterans and chronically homeless adults; an increase for the [Weekend Bag Coalition], which provides food for elementary school children; and numerous other support programs for our most vulnerable residents.” -Nancy Floreen
I know that many difficult decisions were made by the County Executive and County Council in approving the budget. As a taxpayer and homeowner I recognize that my family will be paying more in taxes to make this budget possible. As the Executive Director of Manna, I am also impressed that, as Council President Nancy Floreen said, many items in the budget “….will have a direct impact on residents’ lives….[For example] We are also beefing up our safety net with an increase in the Working Parents Assistance program’s subsidies for child care; an increase for initiatives for homeless veterans and chronically homeless adults; an increase for the [Weekend Bag Coalition], which provides food for elementary school children; and numerous other support programs for our most vulnerable residents.”
Thanks to Montgomery County support Manna will be able to:
– Continue our service as the County’s designated food bank: Last year Manna reached 38,637 residents at an annual cost to the County of approximately $5.00 per person
– Provide nutritious food to approximately 2,500 students weekly through our Smart Sacks weekend bag program. By collaborating with Montgomery County Public Schools, Women Who Care Ministries, and Kids in Need Distributors, we will also scale up efforts to reach the neediest low income students in the next school year
– Coordinate the efforts of the Community Food Rescue network, which is working to increase the amount of food recovered and shared with food insecure neighbors by 20%
– Work with local farmers and Farmers’ Markets through our “Farm to Food Bank” project that makes more locally grown produce available to the 3,700 families who visit Manna monthly.
When I approach foundations, individuals and businesses to ask them to lend their support to these programs designed to end hunger, my “ask” is stronger because I can say that elected officials are a part of the solution. Clearly taxpayers are both contributors to and beneficiaries of the work Manna does. On behalf of the staff and Board of Manna Food Center, and the individuals, families and neighborhoods we serve, I thank Montgomery County as a whole for being a place where our most vulnerable residents are served and our prosperity is shared.