WELCOME TO MANNA!
Manna Food Project helps feed the hungry in Antrim, Charlevoix, and Emmet counties in Northwest Michigan. Manna is a partner organization of the Feeding America Food Bank Network and is funded entirely through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations.
As the pandemic worsens, food insecurity follows
Jessyca Stoepker | November 20, 2020
Food pantries normally see an increase in client numbers as the weather gets colder. Winter means seasonal layoffs, higher heating bills, more car trouble, and uncertain holidays for many people struggling to make ends meet.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic’s continued presence and sudden worsening in Northern Michigan has added another layer to these problems, and Manna has immediately seen the effects. This past Tuesday, we served over 100 households at our on-site food pantry in Harbor Springs—about a 60 percent increase from the Tuesday before.
Starting at 9 a.m., I registered each family as they came through, one after the other, in a line that extended far out into the McBride Park cul de sac and didn’t shrink until quarter to noon. Donning a mask and plenty of hand sanitizer, I talked to each person as they arrived through the window of our new outdoor kiosk, meant to shelter volunteers or staff like me from the unforgiving winter weather.
Some people had never been to Manna before, or were new to the area. Others hadn’t needed food assistance for years, just had a baby, or were sheltering in place with extended family. Several people picked up for a friend or family member in quarantine. As I wrote down names and addresses—the only information we need to know—I heard their stories, if they chose to share them with me.
The problem of a national crisis, like a pandemic, is that it does not just have one cause and one effect. Yes, one effect of the virus is the hospitalization of hundreds of people in Northern Michigan, but even that snowballs.
Suddenly, emergency rooms aren’t able to treat heart attack or accident victims anymore, meaning people unable to receive help have their conditions worsen or take their lives.
How do you measure hunger?
Hunger is a feeling that can be different for everyone, but the term “food insecurity” is the best way to actually measure the conditions that can lead to hunger. According to Feeding America West Michigan (FAWM), food insecurity describes a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live a healthy life.
We cannot tell just by appearances who among us may be struggling to make ends meet. One "bad month" out of the year can be enough to plunge a household into food insecurity. Lay-offs at work, unexpected car issues, or an accident may suddenly force a family to choose between buying food and paying other bills. Millions of Americans face situations like this every day that may lead to food insecurity and hunger.