LP Manna Ministries faces shortage
JOE SEELIGLAKE PLACID - When you feed more than 500 needy households each month, as Manna Ministries of Lake Placid Inc. does, it takes faith that people will open up their hearts and let generosity flow – even in hard times.
Published: October 2, 2012
Published: October 2, 2012
And times have gotten rougher around the holidays – in November and December. Last year and the year before, Manna helped feed more than 625 families during the holiday season.
That was up from about 540 in 2009 and about 450 in 2008.
Actually, Manna was up to 545 households at last count this year, and the numbers were still climbing. It has about 3,000 active families on file, some of who are now working or occasionally need help.
Manna is having a hard time purchasing discount groceries, "like from the food bank system," said Marlene Christiansen, executive director, in a ministry newsletter.
"They do not have food either," she wrote, welcoming any donations she can get, of food or money. "We have had to spend a large amount on retail groceries to continue serving our clients."
Christiansen said on their last trip to the Heartland Food Reservoir, all they came back with were six boxes of cantaloupes.
Manna has volunteers who go out shopping every day, she said. But with the price of food going up, dollars aren't going as far. The value of their clients' food stamps isn't going as far either, increasing their need for outside help.
They open for their clients at 9:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. They must be pre-approved after filling out a questionnaire.
"We also get things from grocery stores, like deli bread," she said. "Things the store would normally dispose of. We also get some produce (peppers for example) from the local Sweetbay store. These are things at the end of their sale-life but not necessarily the end of the useable life."
They go through 200 to 500 pounds per day, she said.
"We let the clients pick up what they can use," she said. "We pick out what's bad. It's generally all gone before we close up at 1 p.m."
The shortage appears to be seasonal, she said.
"It's more seasonal on perishable items," she said.
It is also seasonal as far as supermarket donations, she said, when it comes to canned items.
Over five years there, she's seen a real decline in canned goods, she said. The scratch and dent items are often being sent to a central redistribution center – possibly for auction; she wasn't sure.
"In general the canned goods have gone someplace else," she said. "It's declining instead of getting better. Expired items go through the food bank system. But we're getting a lot less of that at the food reservoir.
"We always need pastas and rice," she said. "We try to see clients get protein – meat - tuna – and vegetables and starches."
Breads, they get plenty of from Sweetbay, Panera and Publix.
Carol Bogdan, bookkeeper and member of the Heartland Food Reservoir's board of directors, said Monday that they have some food, but they need a lot more.
"We're always in need of donors, whether they be of food or money," Bogdan said Monday morning. "Our truck is out picking up right now. As fast as we get it in it's going out again.
"The churches are having a difficult time going to the store and spending retail prices. They can get so much more if they can come to us."
The food reservoir recently got in a large shipment of bananas so they called all the agencies. They sold them for .10 cents a pound.
Part of the problem is seasonal, she said.
The supermarket managers order fewer items in the off season – until the winter visitors return.
"By mid-October the snowbirds start dribbling in," she said. "Then the store managers start ordering more."
They try to take into consideration the larger food pantries, like Manna, who need more. Manna comes to the reservoir every week for food, she said.
"Manna distributes to 500 families or more per month and it's getting worse," she said.
Bogdan said the Heartland Food Reservoir is working to get a food drive going, getting banks, stores, the Scouts as well as civic and neighborhood groups involved to put out a drum or boxes to gather food and donations.
To donate time, food or money at the Heartland Food Reservoir call, (863) 385-7885.
For Manna Ministries of Lake Placid call (863) 699-0093, or mail contributions to Manna Ministries of Lake Placid, Inc., 416 Kent Ave., Lake Placid, Fla., 33852.
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