About Manna Food Project

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The Manna Food Project

Manna Food Project (Manna), a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, helps feed the hungry in Antrim, Charlevoix, and Emmet Counties. Over 250 committed volunteers, partnering with a staff of seven, work together to achieve our mission.

  • Manna is a partner organization of the national Feeding America Food Bank Network.
  • Manna operates a food bank (distribution center), a food rescue program, a weekly food pantry, and the Food 4 Kids backpack program.
  • Manna also partners with community agencies and local businesses to host cooking classes, community dinners, and other events highlighting the importance of healthy, fresh food.
Manna Food Truck

Our Story

Manna Food Project truly has humble beginnings. Our organization was founded in 1987 by five compassionate leaders in the local Northern Michigan community: Jim Alton, Joe Baird, Dennis Cross, Larry Poller, and Budd Tallberg.

They saw that far too many in their community didn’t have enough food to eat, and they took action. Originally conceived as a soup kitchen, the operation soon began distributing non-perishable food to families in need from a small warehouse on Buckley Street in Petoskey.

The program began to grow, and, after several moves and administration changes, Manna came to be what it is today: a well-respected, community-based organization that succeeds through a shared compassion for helping those in need.

Manna became a Partner Distribution Organization of the national Feeding America Food Bank Network in 2009. Feeding America West Michigan is our primary source of healthy food to distribute to our clients and partner agencies. In 2017, Feeding America West Michigan distributed 26.7 million pounds of food, the equivalent of more than 22 million meals to help relieve hunger and increase food security in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

A Glimpse of Manna History


The idea to feed the hungry begins as sharing soup and sandwiches with those in need.


The Manna Project is incorporated. Warehouse space is rented on Clarion Avenue in Petoskey. A food pantry is open two days a week.


Manna moves to Buckley Ave. A formal food bank is established by partnering with West Michigan Gleaners, an affiliate of the Second Harvest National Food Bank Network. This encourages other organizations in the area to begin food pantries.


Manna’s first annual Empty Bowls Luncheon takes place at Stafford’s Perry Hotel.


Our current site is purchased in McBride Park, with construction beginning in the fall.


Our organization’s name is officially change to The Manna Food Project, Inc.


First annual Petoskey-Bay View CROP Hunger Walk takes place, benefiting Manna and other area pantries.


A new van is purchased, increasing food rescue and delivery capacity.


Manna implements a new computer tracking system to replace hand-written logbooks.


Manna’s first annual “Golf Fore Manna” charity outing takes place. Warehouse expansion begins, increasing warehouse and freezer space and a new “clean room” to repack bulk food items.


Manna becomes a Partner Distribution Organization with the renamed Feeding America West Michigan (previously West Michigan Gleaners).


Manna launches the “Food 4 Kids” Backpack Program.


A large refrigerated box truck is purchased through Dave Kring Chevrolet and a Walmart Foundation grant.


A first “Produce for People” program is launched, improving the quality and nutritional value of the foods Manna distributes to its pantry and partners.


Manna begins to organize cooking classes for hundreds of pantry clients, as a joint venture with the Health Department of Northwest Michigan and Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities.


Nutrition education programming expands with recognition of hunger as a health issue.


The COVID-19 pandemic closes schools and businesses for months. To combat the economic downturn and increased need, Manna launches mobile food pantries at Boyne Highlands and Odawa Casino.


Manna resumes Food Rescue and brings volunteers back into the building at a reduced rate. A drive through pantry was developed and was a great success.


The COVID-19 pandemic is winding down and Manna’s operations continue to grow. A new barcoding and scanning system were implemented to streamline inventory and improve efficiency.

What's Next for Manna?

Every year we expand our reach to those who need it most.
Help us continue our mission to feed the hungry in Northern Michigan.