Monday, September 27, 2010

29th on the 28th

September 28th, 29 years ago, the glimmer of an idea emerged.

A name was assigned at the time: Interfaith Community Services or ICS. The intent was to bring together different faith-based organizations to provide food to people in need.

From some corners of the community there were questions. Hungry people here? From others, there was down-right resistance. We don't want those people coming to our town. In the end, clearer minds prevailed.

After operating from the basement of St. John's United Church of Christ for two years, a simple brick building was contributed to the cause. The name Manna on Main Street was chosen, which raised more questions. Manna? Bread from heaven?

It all seems so logical today. So clear, so obvious. The name, the cause , the need.

The glimmer of an idea: that everyone might be fed...

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's Free???

The woman came in Manna's door, looking confused. She looked to be in her late-60s.

"Can I help you?"
"Someone told me I could come here for food. I live in Hatfield and have been having some health problems." She held up her cane. "I had to give up my car because of the medical bills, so it's been hard for me lately. I'm really hungry"
"There are two food cupboards closer to you; they're in Hatfield - here's the information on how to reach them; but if you're hungry, you're welcome to eat with us now. The food's very good and it's free."
"It's free?" she said, and took off her sunglasses. Her bottom lip began to quiver. "It's free," she repeated, almost a whisper.

Another person, hungry, fed.

Nothing new or different on Main Street...

Monday, September 13, 2010


To many individuals, this an unfamiliar word. To Manna, it is very well-known. Every year, our friends from the North Penn Mosque celebrate Eid ul-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. And every year as part of their celebration, they deliver Eid baskets to us: baskets filled with various food items and a generous supply of gift cards to be given to families in need.

It is a real joy to be able to share these gifts with people who struggle to make ends meet - it allows them to purchase simple, much needed items like clothing, toiletries, and the other everyday goods that most of us take for granted.

We are humbled to be a part of this unusual work, where both the mainstream and the unfamiliar find their way in making a difference in people's lives...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Small and Safe or Large and Scary

Which one of these describes Manna on Main Street?

Actually, it's both. Manna is a small place: about 15 seats for dining, staff crammed into tight spaces and food everywhere. It's a safe place as well, where people can have a quiet meal without any pressure or hassles. Anyone can find refuge within these walls.

Oddly enough, that's what makes Manna large and scary. Our outreach has no bounds. Anyone can walk in, which means that folks with different, challenging issues find their way here. It can be scary, not knowing what someone has experienced in their life and how they will react to a given situation.

Fortunately, in our 28 year history, we've never had a situation where the large and scary realities have led to anyone being in physical danger. That we attribute to the sense of welcoming, that small and safeness that makes Manna an unusual, yet affirming place to be...