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Manna provides meals, love

As a part of their core curriculum, Eastern requires students to participate in some type of volunteer work, or service learning. There are many different organizations that the university affiliates itself with, but one in particular seems to get overlooked. MANNA is a food distribution service, stationed in Philadelphia, that delivers meals to people living with AIDS and HIV.

Formed in 1990 by the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, MANNA had a relatively small start. They originally only serviced a few AIDS/HIV patients in Center City, but over the years have expanded and now serve 11 counties in the Tristate area. MANNA is a non-profit organization that operates with only a small staff and relies heavily on volunteers. With over 1,000 volunteers, MANNA is able to deliver over 2,000 meals a day. On December 1, 2005, MANNA celebrated the delivery of their five millionth meal.

Volunteers assist with preparation and delivery of meals to MANNA’s clientele. Many of MANNA’s clients are close to or living in poverty. MANNA is the only free food service available to them. MANNA also respects the privacy of their clients by cautioning volunteers delivering food to not yell out “food delivery” or the name of the organization.

Recipients of MANNA services receive either three home-cooked meals a day or fresh fruit, milk, cereal and five frozen entrees delivered once a week. MANNA chefs and nutritionists offer modified meals for clients with special needs such as food allergies, diabetic needs, kosher and easy to swallow. MANNA also lifts the spirits of their clients by including special treats on holidays and birthdays. Food distribution is only part of their mission. They show love and support to their clients and try to promote the importance of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.

MANNA is always welcoming to new volunteers. Their only requirement is that volunteers attend a Volunteer Orientation and have a valid drivers license, if they are volunteering for delivery. Students with cars can volunteer to distribute; others may want to help prepare. There are also opportunities to volunteer at special events if you can’t commit to a set schedule. Kitchen volunteers work either three to four hour shifts, while distribution begins mid-morning and generally takes about one to two hours. MANNA is also very flexible and offers several different shifts that, most likely, would fit into any schedule.

For more information, contact Bob Grant at rgrant@eastern.edu or x5495.

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