Through strategic partnerships and innovative programs, Manna fills a number of gaps in services to children and the elderly in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. Senior hunger is a nationwide problem and is prevalent in our area. Every month thousands of senior citizens choose to pay bills, buy medication or buy food. At the same time, many of the thousands of children in our area who receive free or reduced meals at school have no access to food on the weekends. A hungry child cannot learn and grow.
Manna provides a number of programs and services addressing these specific issues as well as the hunger challenges facing more families in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties than ever.
Manna Programs and Services
Manna operates a network of three food distribution pantries in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. Our Pantry Services Program is designed to provide short-term food assistance to families and individuals in temporary crisis situations by providing a five-day supply of food in the form of groceries. Service is offered a maximum of three times a year to individuals in need. Manna partners with two churches that host satellite pantries in low-income areas to create a broad reach into the community where the needs are greatest.
School Resource Officer Food Program
The School Resource Officer Food Program is a partnership with Pensacola Police Department and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office to provide School Resource Officers (SROs) at 28 schools with food for students who’ve identified themselves as being in need. SROs utilize the food as a tool to have deeper conversations with students about life at home, academic performance, behavior, and more. The SROs tell us that it’s working, and in addition, SROs have also identified whole family units struggling with food insecurity during home visits. We supply each family member with a 5-day supply of healthy groceries, and more importantly, the relationship between the officer and the family is strengthened.
Ministry Village at Olive
This partnership provides food bags to clients enrolled in The Ministry Village at Olive’s Tender Hearts Caring Hands financial stability class. Manna supplies groceries to individuals and families who participate in this program. Furnishing groceries alleviates additional financial burden as well as provides a meaningful opportunity to put the class experience into practical application by offering an instant reduction in expenses. This allows the family to utilize that money for savings, debt reduction or to make other needed purchases.
The Backpack4Teens Program is a collaboration with the Santa Rosa County School District that enables trained school personnel to connect Unaccompanied Youth (mostly homeless 10th-12th graders living in cars, parks or on the streets) with Manna's resources. Food is a critical stabilizing factor for these students, and it reduces the likelihood that they will engage in risky or illegal behavior to obtain food.
Healthy Seniors Food Program at Westminster Village
The Healthy Seniors Food Program provides a 10-day supply of healthy food each month to low-income senior citizens residing at Westminster Village, a low-income rental retirement community. This program benefits 140-150 seniors who must often choose between buying food or medications. The program improves their access to healthy food and in turn improves the nutritional quality of their diet, by consistently providing them with a minimum of 70% of the daily serving recommendations for a healthy diet.
This collaboration with United Way of West Florida and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast was designed to provide seven healthy weekend meals to children participating in an after-school program at Montclair Elementary. Adequate nutrition is essential for the growing minds of our youth. Tummy Bundles is designed to alleviate the excess burden of hunger for the children participating in the Boys & Girls Clubs program that is focused on improving educational and health outcomes. This program is generously supported by the Bear Family Foundation (www.bearfamilyfoundation.org
Gulf Coast Kid's House and Santa Rosa Kids' House
Manna partners with Gulf Coast Kid's House (GCKH) and Santa Rosa Kids' House (SRKH) to provide emergency food bags at their facilities to distribute to the families and children they serve. Prior to this collaboration, their advocates would have to refer families to other resources for emergency food. This presented a problem especially when children are placed on the weekend or in the middle of the night, resulting in a lapse of time when the children and their guardians could access emergency food assistance. This partnership now provides the families in need with immediate access to food. GCKH and SRKH are children's advocacy centers that facilitate the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse and neglect, and promote child abuse prevention and awareness through community education.
Lutheran Services Florida
Manna also partners with Lutheran Services Florida (LSF) to provide healthy, nutritious food on a monthly basis to HIV-positive patients qualified through the Ryan White grant. In honor of Ryan White's efforts and because Florida ranks third in the number of AIDS cases reported nationwide, LSF serves clients of all ages suffering from the disease within Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.