Manny Goes to the Farm

Manny set up for a cooking class during the Farm Tour.

Manny the Mobile Kitchen and Pop-Up Pantry vehicle was invited to participate in the Montgomery County Farm Tour this year. Our driver, Maka Graham, and coordinator, Jaimie Mulligan, had a wonderful time introducing participants, donors, volunteers, and community members to our two programs that feature the vehicle. For those that do not know, “Manny” is a retro-fitted school bus with a full commercial kitchen onboard. Manna uses this kitchen to go to schools on a monthly basis to teach elementary school students grades 3rd through 6th basic nutrition principles through cooking and tasting. In addition to the classes for children, we also use the bus to host Pop-Up Pantries in different underserved areas of our County. We fill the vehicle with racks full of fresh produce, and go to places in Montgomery County that benefit from this type of outreach. We also use these opportunities to connect new people to Manna’s mission and services.

When people entered the vehicle on Saturday, they were greeted with a choice of two different samples featuring local produce items from Red Wiggler Community Farm. The first recipe used the beautiful multicolored heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil picked by Red Wiggler growers. We created a simple Caprese salad with the addition of some whole mozzarella, freshly ground black pepper, sea salt, and balsamic vinegar. Just as we do in our children’s nutrition education classes, we focused on highlighting the featured ingredients. The second recipe took advantage of the multitude of local cucumbers and tomatoes to make a simple chopped salad with onions, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. The bus provided a shady and cool refuge on a beautiful sunny day.

If you are interested in bringing Manny to your school, please reach out to our Community Engagement Manager, Agar Mbianda at agar@mannafood.org. We are still creating our calendar and are always eager to include new partnerships in our plan. We have limited space available, so please act soon.

This celebration of local ingredients and Manna’s mission to share good food in welcoming spaces continued that evening guests at the Poolesville Golf Course. Central Farm Markets, a longstanding partner and support of Manna’s through our Farm to Food Bank program showcased some of their local vendors at a Farm to Table dinner organized in conjunction with the 2019 Farm Tour.

From L to R: Joshua Carin, Director of Hospitality MCG; Jenna Umbriac, Director of Programs, Manna; Mitch Berliner and Debra Moser, Central Farm Markets.

Diners plates were full of delicious, local ingredients from Community Food Rescue network member Plow and Stars Farm,  Manna Farm to Food Bank partner One Acre Farm and a few generous vendors that regularly provide product from the Bethesda Central Farm Market including Young’s Harvest and Twin Springs Farm.  What made the spread even more satisfying was the fact that 10% of the proceeds were given to Manna to further our vision of a more food secure Montgomery County.