Seven members of the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia joined together in 1990 to provide meals for individuals and families afflicted by the new and scary AIDS epidemic. The goal was not only to help sustain those who were ill, but to help them feel less isolated from the church’s care. Soon scores of volunteers were involved and MANNA (the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance) was delivering thousands of meals and nutritional counseling from a commercial kitchen and a fleet of trucks.
After delivering more than 2 million meals, MANNA expanded its mission to help feed other area residents stressed by life-threatening illnesses like cancer, renal disease, cardiac disease, and diabetes. The average recipient is now 61 years old and has a household income of $10,188. All meals (65,000 per month) and counseling are delivered free of charge. MANNA annually receives donations of more than $1.6 million, and volunteer labor worth a half-million dollars. By its twenty-fifth anniversary, the group had delivered 8 million meals and was a good exemplar of hundreds of other church-initiated and -staffed feeding programs in existence across the U.S.
- History of MANNA, mannapa.org/history