This fall, regional hunger-relief agency MANNA FoodBank will be closing down its distribution center in Franklin, in order to cut back on expenses during tough budgetary times. The Franklin facility is the only satellite branch of its kind throughout its 16 countywide distribution area.
The closure will change the way MANNA delivers its services and food assistance in the area, explained MANNA Communications and Marketing Coordinator Joshua Stack.
The Depot Street facility, which cost the organization as much as $75,000 a year, will close beginning in October. After the closure, local relief agencies will begin to receive their food simply through mobile deliveries and online ordering.
The move is in response to an increased need in emergency food assistance across MANNA’s 16-county service region without a corresponding increase in revenue, explained Stack.
“The large, overarching theme is that resources are not matching demand,” said Stack on Monday, adding that the center had become a redundancy in MANNA’s operations. “We are not seeing a huge influx of jobs which means we are seeing an increase in need.”
In order to serve its partner agencies most efficiently, MANNA will implement existing online ordering systems and mobile delivery routes to sustain distribution levels and reduce operating costs. After careful analysis, MANNA found that these systems were duplicating the functions of the Franklin Branch. “We must become more efficient and efficiency involves no duplication of service, which is what we were noticing in Macon and Jackson counties,” said Stack.
MANNA must meet 2010’s distribution total of 9.1 million pounds in accordance with a steady rise in requests for assistance. In order to do so across the region, MANNA was prompted to modify its operations.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure that the three part-time employees at the center can find work elsewhere,” said Stack, adding that the center over the years has distributed food to anywhere from 10 to 30 local agencies, depending on the amount of need on any given month. “We are not happy about the decision,” he concluded.
“We are committed to continuing to provide the same level of service and we will continue to provide the same amount of food to agencies in our western region who accessed food from the Franklin Branch,” says MANNA’s Executive Director, Cindy Threlkeld. In 2010, MANNA FoodBank distributed more than 803,000 pounds of food to agencies in Macon and Jackson counties, of which 440,000 pounds came out of the Franklin Branch. Threlkeld continues by saying that “our primary objective is the distribution of this food and we must maintain this level of service because food insecurity continues to climb in these regions.”
The Franklin Branch opened in 1991 in order to better serve agencies in the westernmost region of its service area. According to Stack, MANNA officials are still in the process of determining the schedules and routes that will be set up for Macon County.
About MANNA FoodBank
MANNA FoodBank is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization serving Western North Carolina since 1982. As an accredited member of Feeding America – the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization, MANNA serves 255 non-profit member agencies in 16 Western North Carolina counties. In 2010, MANNA distributed 9.1 million pounds of food to partner agencies – enough food for more than 20,000 meals 365 days a year. For more information on what you can do to help end hunger in Western North Carolina, visit www.MANNAFoodBank.org.
Last year, MANNA distributed 173,000 lbs. of food to Jackson County, 445,571 lbs. to Macon and 630,869 lbs. of food went to Haywood. Buncombe County led the hunger figures with 2,700,000 lbs. of food. The Asheville metro area ranks seventh, out of 950 metro areas in the country, for food hardship.