Manna, Inc, a local soup kitchen that provides meals to the homeless in Northampton, Massachusetts, has taken on more work in the last few weeks. Another local food pantry that was serving hot meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays needed to close, and Treasurer of Manna Lee Anderson didn’t hesitate.
As an active member of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Northampton, Anderson quickly asked the church if it was possible to begin cooking the two extra meals during the week at the church.
St. John’s Episcopal Church began Manna, Inc. more than 30 years ago. Anderson knows the history, and St. John’s always tries to keep an active member of the parish on the board of Manna to honor those that got the meal program started in the first place. Manna, Inc. has grown over the years and is now an independent non-profit organization that serves meals seven days a week in the city of Northampton.
With the help of a strong volunteer network, Anderson was able to pull off adding the two meals to the Manna schedule so that people in the area who rely on the hot didn’t go hungry. Anderson has his own strategy when it comes to providing meals for the homeless, and he believes strongly in the importance of providing a healthy, dignified meal.
St. John’s is working hard to raise funds to update their entire building, and that includes the funds needed to renovate the kitchen and dining area for Manna guests so that every meal served at Manna is accessible to everyone. At this time, meals are served in the church undercroft, which is a problem for individuals who can’t make it down a flight of stairs. St. John’s is renovating to add an elevator to the building to better serve those in the community.
Anderson is a quiet man who is a humble servant of God. He provides well-balanced meals for any guest that comes on Tuesdays and Thursdays to the undercroft at St. John’s church. He focuses on the presentation of the food, as he wants those that come to the table to feel like guests at a restaurant. His vision for the future is to create a dining experience at St. John’s through Manna where people come and eat, paying what they can for the meal.
His goal is to consistently provide good food to Manna guests while integrating those that are less fortunate with those that can afford a good meal. St. John’s is a meeting place for many types of groups, and creating a restaurant atmosphere where you can get a good hot meal on a sliding scale isn’t out of the realm of possibility for this thriving church.
Manna, Inc. now provides meals for residents of Northampton five days a week. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, meals are served at St. John’s Episcopal Church starting at noon. On Wednesdays at six and Saturdays at noon, meals are served at Edward’s Church nearby. Anderson says he would love to see Manna serve meals seven days a week, but for now he is happy with providing the two extra meals that were once provided by another pantry.
In addition to serving up healthy, hearty meals for those that come to Manna, take-out containers are available for anyone that would like to carry out food for another meal. The meals are generous, and no one is turned away. If an individual is unable to access the meals downstairs, the one of the volunteers will bring a meal up to the person who needs a hot meal.
Manna, Inc. has been going for more than 30 years, and the non-profit continues to grow with plenty of support from the community. In addition to weekly meals, Manna also provides holiday meals for those that are alone during the holidays or unable to afford a hot meal. For Christmas, Manna also takes orders for individuals who are not able to get out and want to enjoy a hot meal on the holiday. Volunteers come out to deliver the meals to local residents and provide some cheer during the holidays.
~ 1776 Christian