Monday, April 25, 2011

Loaves and People

It could be said that bread and people are at the very core of what Manna is all about. Every day, bread is delivered. It comes from grocery stores (Giant, Acme, Genuardi) and from specialty shops like Panera and the Hearth Bakery. The bread is mostly leftovers - what the stores could not sell that day; items near their expiration date. Still, the bread is very good, and we see it as giving the bread a second chance, the opportunity to feed someone rather than winding up in a dumpster.

As for the individuals that come to Manna, they come from all walks of life: working poor, elderly, homeless, and some just barely holding on. I'm reminded of a woman that came to us years ago, just out of a rehab clinic. She had battled drugs for most of her life and was finally on the way to making herself whole. She came for bread, then eventually, bags of groceries. She was difficult to deal with, but we worked with her. To some, it might have seemed like a waste, spending so much time and energy on someone with obvious problems. But just like we take in the unwanted bread, so it is that we take in people, providing them a second chance...

Monday, April 18, 2011


In the book The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb explores the concept of unusual events, outliers in history that have changed the world. Interestingly, the subtitle to the book is The Impact of the Highly Improbable, in that many of these events were never really predicted or expected.

To a large degree, that subtitle captures the essence of Manna. When we were founded 30 years ago, it was highly improbable that a soup kitchen and food cupboard could come to be such an important part of this small town. And yet, here we are, still serving people in need, still supported by an incredible band of community helpers. Back then, highly improbable, totally unexpected; but today, a part of who we are...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mostly Hidden

Most of what goes on in an organization like Manna on Main Street is pretty much hidden from the general public. While folks may read about Manna in the newspaper, look at our website or read this blog, most of the elements that lead to our success are hidden from the masses. What is not seen?

  • An energetic, engaged board of directors
  • A competent staff
  • Caring volunteers that show up to serve
  • Hundreds of supporters that provide food and financial help
  • Agency partners that share resources and ideas
The list goes on and on. While we appreciate the publicity, the features in the paper and notoriety on the web, we acknowledge that there are literally thousands of individuals that make this work possible; good people, mostly hidden...

Monday, April 4, 2011


30 years is a long time to remember. And yet that is what Manna on Main Street will be contemplating.

This year we celebrate 30 years of service to the community. The actual anniversary date is September 28, 2011, and there will be a number of special activities and events leading up to that date. But before we become consumed with the festivities surrounding our anniversary, it seems appropriate to remember why we were founded and why we are still here today.

30 years ago there were people in need. They needed food: hot meals and groceries they could take home to their families. The needed financial help as well... assistance with their rent payments, their utilities, medical care. The government had a handful of programs in place, but the structure and bureaucracy proved inadequate in responding to the needs.

Much of that remains true today. And while there are more social service agencies available to help than there were 30 years ago, the needs have continued to grow. People continue to hurt, and they need a place to come to where they will be treated with dignity and respect.

Yes, we look forward to celebrating 30 years, and we will be asking the community to join in the festivities. But first, we remember, rededicate ourselves, and look with hope to the future...