Manna Food Center’s Fight Against Childhood Hunger
By: Danielle Ferguson and Danny Turner (Manna Dietetic Interns)
Childhood hunger is something that hits deep in the heart of our society. According to the Frontline documentary Poor Kids, there are 14 million children currently living in poverty in the United States. Some of these children don’t know where their next meal is coming from, or if they will have a place to live the next day. This film follows the story of several families each struggling to find a way to afford basic everyday needs. As future Registered Dietitians, we know that working to improve health and wellbeing through nutrition in our community is incredibly important. It was heartbreaking to find out how widespread and severe childhood hunger is. Thankfully there are organizations like Manna that are working ceaselessly to provide food to those in need. Having the opportunity to be a part of Manna for two weeks, we have experienced how dedicated they are to ending hunger in Montgomery County, especially for the children that live here.
Manna’s mission is the create a hunger free zone in Montgomery County and their vision for the future is “nothing less than food security for all – where hunger no longer exists, as residents are self-sufficient and providing for themselves.” We have seen the work that the employees, volunteers, and community contribute every day through food sorting, packing, cleaning, and distributing to get it to those who need it most. One of our favorite projects Manna currently operates is the Smart Snacks program for the children in the local community. Smart Sacks provides bags of food to over 2,800 children each week to bridge the weekend gap when they can’t rely on school provided meals. The bags include whole grains, low sodium canned vegetables, lean meats, and healthier snack options so that these children can enjoy their weekends without worrying so much about their meals. We can all agree that children should never have to worry about when their next meal will be.
Combating hunger throughout the country is a large task, but an attainable one that begins with small steps. The best way to start is looking at ways you can help in your own community, and there are a lot of ways to contribute to the cause of ending hunger in Montgomery County. The Smart Sacks program is just one facet of Manna, and they are always in need of helping hands to carry out their everyday work. If you feel like you want to contribute to Manna’s mission, but aren’t quite sure where to start, check out this list of things Manna needs most!
Here are some ways that YOU can help: