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Manna Café Ministries helps 305 families, sadly 100-200 more had to be turned away

 

Clarksville, TNManna Café Ministries held a mobile food pantry at Fellowship United Methodist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee yesterday. This is the 5th mobile food pantry held at the church since July. 305 families received a shopping cart full of food and personal hygiene items to help tide them over the holiday season. Over 50 people were on hand volunteering. Over the last year, the group distributed over 135,000 pounds of food.

With the added publicity this event received, around another 100-200 people showed up who were not able to receive assistance this time. Last month they served 330 families. “Somehow we were able to squeeze out enough food for thirty more families.”

A volunteer pushes a cart full of groceries to the car for an elderly woman.

A volunteer pushes a cart full of groceries to the car for an elderly woman.

“We’ve never had this many this quick. It’s hard to turn people away, but you are left with no choice when you don’t have any more food to give out.” said Manna Café Ministries founder Kenny York.

York organized the the charity together with his wife Vicki in May 2010. Together they have a combined 16 years experience serving the poor.

The Mobile Food Pantry events are scheduled for the times when Manna Café Ministries receives the food from the Second Harvest Food Bank, which receives various grants throughout the year. Their current goal is to hold 11 Mobile Food Pantry events a year. Four are already scheduled for 2011.

Kenny York checking to make sure everything is ready before they start serving those in need.

Kenny York checking to make sure everything is ready before they start serving those in need.

“We operate on a shoestring budget with the help of a lot of hard working volunteers, so we are way ahead of schedule on the food we are distributing; but we haven’t caught up yet financially. So we can use help from the community,” said York. Financial donations are always helpful, but you can also do something as simple as dropping off bags of canned or boxed foods at the warehouse at 1319 East Franklin Street, or by organizing food drives at your place of work.

A Fort Campbell soldier hands an item to another volunteer filling a cart for the needy.

A Fort Campbell soldier hands an item to another volunteer filling a cart for the needy.

In addition to the Mobile Food Pantry, Manna Café Ministries has several other programs…

One of those is the Mobile Café which feeds around 1,100 people per month. People who are hungry can get help at 5:30pm on Tuesdays at the Byrns L. Darden Elementary School in New Providence; and on Thursdays at 5:30pm, and Saturdays from 8:30am till 10:00am over by the United Way on Madison Street.

Manna Café Ministries distributes food boxes from their warehouse three days a week. They feed an average of 200 families a month with this program.

For more information about Manna Café Ministries including how to make a donation, visit their web site; or follow them on Facebook,

Individual stories

A woman and her two children walk back to their car after picking up a basket of food.

A woman and her two children walk back to their car after picking up a basket of food.

The people who were helped yesterday were a diverse group. All ages and races were represented. I spoke with random people from the group.

When asked how the Mobile Food Pantry was helping her, Nancy Davidson (84) said “The Mobile Food Pantry is feeding me. I don’t get around very well so I don’t get out much. When I do, it’s only with the help of friends. I came with one of them today.”

People waiting for their turn to visit the mobile food pantry.

People waiting for their turn to visit the mobile food pantry.

For Maria Underwood and her elderly mother Ruby the help was essential, “My story is I worked all my life. I got sick and became disabled. I could no longer pay my bills. My disability is only $674 a month, and I barely make it by the skin of my teeth. I am real blessed and thankful for this help today. This will put food on the table for Christmas.”

A woman walks back to her car as a volunteer pushes her cart of food.

A woman walks back to her car as a volunteer pushes her cart of food.

Richard and  Therese Cole would pay it forward by helping other family members, “This would be a help any time of the year, but especially so at Christmas time. This helps us out food wise and by reducing our food budget, it gives us a chance to send some help to other family members who really need it.”

Margie did not want to give her last name, but was very outspoken on how Manna Café Ministries was helping her, “This is a real blessing, things have come up and we are having a really hard time this month. I have never needed help until now. This will help feed five of us. This is a sweet thing they are doing.”

A Manna Café Ministries volunteer informing the people in line they have reached their limit, and could accept no more people for assistance on this day.

A Manna Café Ministries volunteer informing the people in line they have reached their limit, and could accept no more people for assistance on this day.

Krishna Kreiling from Clarksville lost her job after getting in a serious car accident, “This will help me tremendously. I was in a car accident and lost my job. I have a herniated disc in my back. This will really help out to my family. This will get us through the holidays.”

“I am a single mother with three hugry teenagers all living at home. . This will put a smile on their faces over the holiday season.” said Linda, who is doing all she can to raise her family in these hard times,

Donald said “I have kids that don’t stay with me, but they do come and visit. I have limited amount of money, and I have to feed them when they come over. With the help of Manna Café Ministries I won’t have to buy food over Christmas , and so maybe I can afford to get them some Christmas gifts this year.”

The line of people who could not be helped stretches out across the parking lot

The line of people who could not be helped stretches out across the parking lot

About Manna Café Ministries

From 2004-2008, Kenny was on staff at an inner city ministry in Nashville. Among his responsibilities were preparing food and overseeing Meal of Hope, an outreach for those living in the Jo Johnson projects of the city. Each week, the Meal of Hope team fed between 50 and 200 people. Kenny also oversaw the food pantry, which distributed more than 200 bags of food each week, and supervised the food preparation for hundreds of missionaries as they came through the Nashville area.

“We held Combat Hunger event in on November 13th when we had 15,000 pounds of food donated in a single day. That day was declared Combat Hunger Day by both the City and County Mayors, and that was a big help to us.”

Kenny York

During the winter of ’09-’10, Kenny and Vicki began to feel God pulling them toward Clarksville, TN. After seeking counsel from area pastors and other community leaders, they packed their belongings and moved to Clarksville in late April of 2010. Three days later, the devastating flood of ’10 hit the area, and they hit the ground running in the area of disaster relief.

Within weeks–and with the help of a hard-working, dedicated core team of volunteers–MCM was carrying out a community meal for the homeless and poor on Thursday nights (on Pageant Ln.). Within a month or two, and in conjunction with a local church community, MCM was involved in a Saturday morning breakfast as well. Finally, in the month of August, a church from Dover, TN stepped up to the plate so that Tuesday Café (on Providence Blvd.) became possible. Therefore, MCM is presently offering three community meals per weeks: Tuesday Café, Thursday Café, and Saturday Breakfast Café. Via these three events, hundreds of individuals receive a hot meal as well as a “goody bag,” i.e. a bag of non-perishable food items to use throughout the week.

Within weeks–and with the help of a hard-working, dedicated core team of volunteers–MCM was carrying out a community meal for the homeless and poor on Thursday nights (on Pageant Ln.). Within a month or two, and in conjunction with a local church community, MCM was involved in a Saturday morning breakfast as well. Finally, in the month of August, a church from Dover, TN stepped up to the plate so that Tuesday Café (on Providence Blvd.) became possible. Therefore, MCM is presently offering three community meals per weeks: Tuesday Café, Thursday Café, and Saturday Breakfast Café. Via these three events, hundreds of individuals receive a hot meal as well as a “goody bag,” i.e. a bag of non-perishable food items to use throughout the week.

What makes Manna Café Ministries unique is its mobility. Meals are served and food is distributed from various locations throughout the community. Manna Café Ministries is committed to going to where the need exists.

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About Bill Larson

    Bill Larson

    Bill Larson is  is politically and socially active in the community. Bill is a member of the Friends of Dunbar Cave.

    You can reach him via telephone at 931-249-0043 or via the email address below.

    Email: blarson@clarksvilleonline.com

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