NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The Northampton Community Kitchen, called Manna has been nourishing people with food for 35 years, especially during the rise of inflation by providing meals to be put onto the table.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the consumer price index increased to more than 10% as of May, the largest increase since the period of 1981. As consumers face high costs for food, they may find solutions such as going to their local food bank or community kitchen to get by. 22News spoke with Manna’s board president Kate Cardoso to hear her thoughts about food insecurity and how Manna is helping.
“Food insecurity can be different things, it’s a lack of food, but it’s also the lack of healthy food, so I do think we do some great work either not only providing food but providing beautiful, wonderful nutritious food,” said Cardoso.
The community kitchen Manna serves 1,200 meals on a weekly basis to the Northampton community to help with food insecurity.
“We are anticipating though that we will be serving more meals, as it becomes harder and harder for people to be able to afford gas, food, basically anything,” Cardoso added.
Manna’s board treasurer and chef for 7 years, Lee Anderson shares how he will at times get inspirational ideas for meals from guests and volunteers, and how his recipes are never the same.
“We’re actually trying to have all of our meals be a different flavor, so it’s not boring for the guests for those that do come here every day,” Anderson said.
Manna’s volunteers help with food prep, packaging, serving meals at the door, delivering, and cleaning.
Members of the community can find food being served six days a week at their two locations in Northampton, St. John’s Church on 48 Elm St or Edward’s Church on 297 Main St. The meals that are served are prepped and cooked in a four-hour window the day of for anyone to enjoy. However, Manna is no longer a sit-down restaurant during this time.
For guests that are homebound, approximately 300 of the 1,200 meals are delivered to them. The US Census Household Survey indicates as of March, the percentage of households with children facing food insecurity has increased to 21%. Development director Kaitlyn Ferrari shared what it is like to see someone’s face light up when they do deliver food to someone’s household.
“It makes us feel so great, and to have that connection and knowing they really appreciate the food because it’s healthy, it’s one less thing they have to worry about, that interaction is priceless,” said Ferrari.
The latest report from the Greater Boston Food Bank found that 1.8 million people are food insecure. Manna’s board president, Kate Cardoso discussed how she hopes to see food insecurity decrease over time, but until then she hopes it becomes de-stigmatized. “I think the more people talk about it, the more people are able to be open about struggling to provide for themselves, and the easier it will be for them to access the services that are available,” said Cardoso.
Manna’s meal hours
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday
St. John’s Church: 11:30 am to 12:30 p.m.
St. John’s Church: 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday
Edwards Church: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.