For families struggling to make ends meet, food pantries are often the main source of important ingredients for a well-balanced diet. Healthy foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, are often bypassed in the grocery store because their cost is too great. When a head of cabbage costs more than a 10-pack of hotdogs, it’s hard to make the “right” choice.
Cheap options like these are usually full of saturated fats, sodium, and added sugars, making these “convenience” foods hardly convenient in the long run. A multitude of studies have shown that regular consumption of these foods in place of a balanced diet may lead to chronic diseases, like type II diabetes, heart diseases, obesity, and even certain types of cancer.
Food pantries like Manna are uniquely situated to positively influence the eating habits of their clients. By improving the nutritional value of the food we distribute, we provide families with healthy options so that they can lead healthier lives.
We began our Produce for People initiatives thanks to our generous community supporters—the Charlevoix County Community Foundation, the Petoskey Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, Char-Em United Way, the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, Groundwork Center, and Great Lakes Energy People Fund–Manna has been able to make nutrition the first priority. Manna has been successful at sustaining the program and continuing forward with the help of our community. MSU Extension has been instrumental in continuing educational classes.
- Produce for People – providing over 100,000 pounds of high-quality fruits and vegetables from local farms to our clients and partner pantries free-of-charge.
- Crock-Pot, blender, and electric skillet cooking classes – teaching nearly 800 clients how to cook healthy meals and providing them with new appliances to take home.
- Education materials – highlighting basic nutrition with booklets, posters, recipe cards, and other materials printed for our clients.
- Healthy Food Pantry – procuring, promoting, and distributing healthier options through our food pantry and over 50 partner agencies.
Helping to Build Healthy Communities
As mentioned in Groundwork’s article here, Northern Michigan is one of the most agriculturally rich regions in the United States. Yet, a large proportion of Michigan households face significant barriers to buying this fresh produce and living a healthy life. Michigan is in the top third nationally when it comes to excess weight, with 31 percent of adults and 17 percent of children being obese, and much of our population also suffers from chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
The following videos highlight how Manna and other area organizations come together as part of a holistic effort to make our community a better place.