Harbor Springs-based nonprofit Manna Food Project is celebrating its 30th anniversary helping feed the hungry in Northern Michigan. Seven employees and over 250 volunteers work together on four meaningful projects: Manna’s Food Bank, Manna’s Food Rescue, Manna’s Food Pantry, and Manna’s “Food 4 Kids.”

Manna’s Food Bank provides 1.5 million pounds of food to 19 community kitchens and 24 food pantries across Antrim, Charlevoix, and Emmet counties through their food bank. More than 350,000 individuals each year are fed thanks to these efforts.

“The supplemental food that is provided by Manna and our 24 partner pantries helps free up income to help struggling neighbors pay for things like medical bills, propane, electricity, and other essential needs,” says executive director of Manna Food Project, Kim Baker.

According to United Way, 38 percent of those living in Northwest Michigan don’t have enough household income to pay for basic needs like rent and utilities, transportation, healthcare, and food.

Manna’s Food Pantry helps 75 to 100 families every week. Plus over 2,000 youth are fed each week during the school year through Manna’s “Food 4 Kids” backpack program. Nearly 65,000 pounds of food from local grocery stores, restaurants, and farmers are collected through Manna’s Food Rescue program and distributed to partner pantries at no cost.

These projects are making a lasting impact on Northern Michigan residents. And a little extra help during the holidays and winter months by those looking to assist is appreciated.

“We welcome donations of non-perishable food throughout the year, and we particularly appreciate donations during the winter months when it becomes difficult for some of our senior and rural clients to travel. When we become aware of such situations, we provide additional food items to sustain them for a longer period of time,” Kim says. “We also try to provide a little extra during the holidays to make these times a bit special for our clients and their families.”

How Can You Help?

Assemble Backpacks for At-Risk Children

One in five children living in Antrim, Charlevoix, and Emmet counties live in a household that has inconsistent access to healthy food. These children depend on their school lunch program each day for a nutritious meal, Kim explains. Manna’s “Food 4 Kids” backpack program also helps carry them through each weekend of the school year. All ages are invited to help assemble backpacks.

Donate Non-Perishable Food Items

Manna Food Project is located at 8791 McBride Park Court in Harbor Springs and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Give the Gift of Money

Manna Food Project relies completely on the generosity of our caring community to provide free food to those in needs. “A simple $10 donation turns into 40 meals for those at-risk of hunger,” Kim says. Online donations are also welcome.

Donate Your Time

From rescuing food from local grocery stores, to assembling backpacks for at-risk children, to sorting donations, to helping clients shop on pantry days you can become one of over 250 volunteers with Manna Food Project. “Manna Food Project relies completely on the generosity of our caring community to provide free food to those in need,” Kim says.

In Need of Help?

Manna’s Food Pantry is open on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon. However, emergency food boxes are available 24 hours, 7 days a week by calling 231.675.5715.

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Photo(s) by Shea Haddad