Meeting People Where They Are

11/16/2022

Manna Soup Kitchen was founded over 20 years ago with a mission to feed people experiencing homelessness. While the heart of their mission hasn’t changed, the way Manna has gone about it has. From feeding people in church parking lots to their newest renovation, complete with a community garden, a place to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables to cook at home, and places to make phone calls and meet with service providers, Manna Soup Kitchen is committed to meeting people in the community where they are to get them back on their feet. This story is sponsored by Alpine Bank

Hi, I'm Beth Drum, and I am a proud employee owner at Alpine Bank. Giving back to the community is one of Alpine Bank's core values, as it is with the many nonprofits that serve our community. We invite you to meet some of these change makers as part of our series, Community Matters.

For many people, experiencing homelessness, food insecurity, or lack of resources, not knowing where their next meal is coming from can be a major hurdle. Manna Soup Kitchen, founded in 1985, is working within the community to address some of these needs to help people get back on their feet.

The mission of Manna is to provide in the spirit of faith and love, nourishing meals and supportive services in an atmosphere of acceptance and caring for those in need. Manna started in 1985. A woman passed on in the horse stalls of La Plata County Fairgrounds, and she died of starvation. On the wall she had written nobody cares.

As it happened, a group of people decided they did care, and Manna began as an organization serving people from various parking lots. As it grew from the kitchens at Sacred Heart Church to a mobile food truck to its current location, the mission of Manna has remained. But the way that Manna and the people working there along with the community they serve has evolved.

We provide meals Monday through Saturday, and that's from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, and then there's a community market, the hours are 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, except for Wednesdays where we do, like, a night, where it's three to seven. Basically, we provide meals and then the market provides food for families that need, like, groceries in a point in their life where they can't afford it or just need a little extra help.

So as we kind of changed our model, we realized that the need for supportive services in our community was increasing. For many years, we were able to help with services, such as like bus tokens and thrift store vouchers, which were only a small component of a larger picture. So with the onset of COVID, realizing there was more need in the community, we took the opportunity to shift our focus and bring in more services that could hopefully be more impactful on setting people on the path of where they wanted to be. So our resource center does a lot of problem solving for the folks who use these services and helps people figure out what their next steps on their journey are. Anything from long-term transportation assistance to aid employment, we help people with housing, whether that's applying and filling out applications, rental assistance programs through HUD.

Thanks to a grant, Manna Soup Kitchen recently underwent a renovation, changing the building from a more traditional soup kitchen to a place that can address a wide range of community needs. Manna now has a marketplace where people can pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, canned and boxed goods to cook at home, offices to meet with social workers, private showers, and space for other community organizations to set up services in a central location. Manna still offers the meal service that started it all six days a week. The expanded services are aimed at meeting people where they are at the moment to get them back on their feet sooner.

Soup Kitchen brings to mind that long line of people waiting for food, and we wanted to change that.

Manna Soup Kitchen will accept food donations at their donations station on Avenida Del Sol. As a weather's cooling down, their looking for lightly used winter coats, gloves, socks, sleeping bags, hats, and other warm clothing. Household supplies are also welcome for people moving in to transitional housing, such as laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, and general hygiene.

Manna's for everyone in the community, whether that's for folks who are utilizing services here, our supportive services, our food market, our daily meals. We're a very low barrier institution that is also just here to help people of any life circumstance, whether it's just a bump in the road or it's a situation that might need long-term support. Additionally, we are here for community members who just want to give back and volunteer and get to know more about the social situations that are happening in this region and help us build a community of love and care. And yeah, we just want to make sure everyone feels welcome.

With the holiday season coming up, Manna will offer a grab and go option for holiday meals. Thanksgiving dinner will be served November 24th. Come pick up enough meals for you and your family, complete with Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, stuffing, and dessert from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Manna will be serving their annual Christmas brunch from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM on December 25th, which will also be grab and go style. For more information about Manna Soup Kitchen, their services, and how to get involved, visit MannaSoupKitchen.org. Thank you for watching this edition of Community Matters. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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