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SPECIAL NUTRITION ISSUE
As we come upon the end of March, which is National Nutrition Month, we would like to dedicate this issue of Fresh News to highlighting MANNA's focus on fresh food and nutrition.

 
The research linking food insecurity and health is clear:
Food insecurity has a negative impact on a person's health, particularly for vulnerable groups like children and seniors. 
 
At MANNA, we know that ending hunger means filling plates with the food to support people's lives. While we work every day to ensure food moves quickly across our 16-county service area, we face a situation where the number of people needing emergency food continues to grow...with little relief in sight. We know that in order to address the health implications of hunger for this growing need, our work must also focus on the foundation of good health - nutrition.
 
"I have worked in the non-profit field for over six years and have never seen the commitment to nutrition your organization is providing. I’m hopeful together we can help people live longer, healthier lives."

-Pam Schou, pantry manager for Sharing House
 
A Healthy Food Inventory

In 2016, over 68 percent of the food MANNA distributed was "a healthy staple." This includes fresh produce, whole grains, certain dairy products, beans and legumes, and other whole foods that support people's health. Over 25 percent of the food MANNA distributed in WNC in 2016 was fresh produce alone. More than 3.85 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables moved through the MANNA network and into WNC communities. This vital piece of MANNA's food distribution program is helping to change what ends up on families' plates. Handling fresh produce means utilizing the expertise of every department at MANNA: timing donation deliveries, volunteers quickly sorting and preparing produce for delivery or pick up, and the MANNA truck fleet shipping it out every morning across the MANNA partner network. 

 
MANNA Express: Fresh Food Fast

In the first full year of this fledgling just-in-time delivery program, MANNA Express volunteer drivers delivered over 216,000 pounds of fresh produce to MANNA network partners in every county of our service area. (Right: MANNA Express volunteer driver Mike Mulry and MANNA nutrition associate, Amy Harman, stop working for a quick photo at a recent MANNA Express delivery.)

 
Produce Pop Up Markets: Produce to People
 
Our ongoing work with the Buncombe County Community Service Navigators shows us exactly how important MANNA's focus on healthy foods is for a community. The community-based pop-up markets are strategically located in low-income communities and feature fresh produce, bakery items, and other perishables that help supplement families' food budgets. This partnership with Buncombe County ensures that we are getting fresh, healthy produce straight to communities that are most at risk for food insecurity. 
Nutrition WORKS
Our focus on nutrition has never been more important, or more supported. In 2016, MANNA took even greater strides towards addressing the importance of nutrition. Thanks to the commitment of food donors, funding partners, partner pantries, volunteers, and donors dedicated to healthy food, MANNA launched several pilot programs focused on improving access to healthy foods for the thousands of clients served by the MANNA network every day.
 
Nutritional Nudges Pilot Program: The "Nudge Program," our shorthand way of referencing this important effort, gives support to MANNA network partners with gentle "nudges" to encourage people to make healthier food choices. The Nudge Program provides partners with nutrition-oriented educational information, nutrition-oriented signage, healthy recipes, and on-site cooking demos with fresh foods for taste testing. MANNA's on-staff dietitian works with partners to create easy ways to encourage clients to take home more fresh food. When an on-site cooking demo is combined with a same-day MANNA Express delivery, the amount of fresh food clients take home from a partner that day has increased by an average of 24%.
 
Clinic Referrals Pilot Program: An exciting partnership with the YMCA has begun with six medical clinic partners in three different counties, and we have plans to add more in the next phase of the program. Thanks to Mission Community Investment funding in 2016, MANNA has launched the first phase of this clinic referral program. Participating clinics screen patients for food insecurity. For those individuals who screen positive, the clinic provides the patient with a doctor's nutrition referral to the MANNA Food HelpLine and the YMCA Mobile Kitchen.The HelpLine team offers FNS application assistance and connections to the MANNA partner network and available food resources. The YMCA Mobile Kitchen brings free produce to each clinic twice a month and provides on-site nutrition education for patients. 
SPECIAL EVENTS
Food Lion Feeds!
 
In February, Food Lion recognized Montmorenci United Methodist Church, a MANNA partner agency, for their dedication to local hunger efforts. Food Lion employees came to volunteer at Montmorenci, cooked a hot meal for over 150 people, and donated food for their pantry distribution. 
 
This is just one way in which Food Lion remains a committed partner in the work to end hunger in our region. We are so grateful to them for their ongoing efforts, and their special recognition of our partners!
COMMUNITY ACTION
February Food Drives

 
Catelyn B. dropped by MANNA recently with a trunk full of food and an envelope of donations.
 
It's amazing how one student's service project turned into a tangible difference for people here in WNC:
 
Thanks to 331 pounds of donated food, and $500 collected in donations, Catelyn and her neighborhood provided 2,026 meals for families needing food support.

GIFTS, AWARDS, AND RECOGNITION
Lipman Family Farms: Produce for a Purpose
Lipman Family Farms has been a longtime food donor to MANNA: Since they began donating in the early 2000's, Lipman Family Farms has donated over 12,400,000 pounds of fresh produce! We are proud to partner with this incredible local grower and are so overwhelmed with their ongoing commitment to feeding people across WNC. 


"Hunger relief will continue to be a focus of Lipman's philanthropy for a long time. We know that many families could be one missed paycheck away from missing a meal. MANNA FoodBank not only provides a security blanket for people who are hungry, but they also make every effort to educate people about their health and how to eat right. Our families and our neighbors are fortunate to have an organization like theirs available for them if they need help."

- Jaime Weisinger, Director of Community Relations for Lipman Family Farms
Walmart Foundation
The Walmart Foundation, in conjunction with Feeding America, continues to provide funding to food banks across the country, including MANNA, to help source fresh food at local grocers before it is thrown away. This program, called the Retail Direct Service Program (RSDP), connects local grocery stores with MANNA partners in their area. These MANNA partners - soup kitchens, pantries, shelters, and other emergency food organizations - come to the store several times a week to pick up perishables "rescued" from being tossed.
 
The RSDP program has been vital to providing access to families needing more fresh fruits and vegetables. It saves food from being thrown away and gets it directly to a family that needs it. A bruised apple on a local grocery shelf can make it to someone's plate that night - no waste - and a family gets to eat healthy, fresh foods. 

Thanks to the Walmart Foundation's support, in 2016, MANNA FoodBank and our network partners redirected 3,975,700 pounds of perishable foods to families needing food across Western North Carolina. 

CFWNC Henderson: A Cherished Partnership
MANNA FoodBank salutes the Community Foundation of Henderson County for their steadfast partnership in our mission to end hunger in Henderson County.
 
This year alone, the Community Foundation of Henderson County has helped to provide 52,500 meals to families in our region. 
 
Pope John Paul II wisely said, “A community needs a soul if it is to become a true home for human beings. You, the people, must give it this soul.”
 
We are so grateful and proud of our partnership with the Community Foundation and our shared commitment to serve the people in need in Henderson County. We celebrate your soul for the Henderson County community and all that you do to make it great place to live for all!
The Walt Disney Company: Produce is a Priority
In 2016, The Walt Disney Company partnered with Feeding America to provide grants opportunities to food banks focusing on fresh produce.
 
MANNA was one of the lucky recipients of this nutrition-focused funding and used this important funding to help support and expand our ongoing nutritionally focused efforts, including procuring fresh produce, and providing more access to healthy foods to thousands of WNC residents.
 
We would like to offer our sincere gratitude to the Walt Disney Company for this incredible partnership to support healthier communities across the mountains!
The Bank of America Give A Meal Results Are IN!
We would like to thank everyone who accepted last year's Bank of America Give A Meal challenge! Thanks to you, and to Bank of America for double-matching gifts made through the website, we raised over $56,000 to help in our work, distributing food across 16 counties in Western North Carolina. Your support came just in time, as we witnessed a spike in the number of WNC families seeking support from our network partners.
 
Because of your dedication, and Bank of America's support, we are able to provide over 196,000 meals to families struggling to fill their tables.
 
This is an incredible testament to the WNC community's compassion towards all of our neighbors, and provides more than just a box of food when someone needs it most. It also provides hope. Thank you for providing hope to so many. 
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MANNA FoodBank  •  627 Swannanoa River Road  •  Asheville, NC 28805

http://mannafoodbank.org

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