MANNA bids farewell to director

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By Sarrah Peters

News Editor

MANNA recently bid farewell to director Duyen Stokes, who has been with the program for 19 years. Exchange Bank and MANNA volunteers held a luncheon in her honor on Friday, March 11. After the luncheon, volunteer Pudden MacArthur presented Stokes with a poster signed by all the MANNA volunteers.

MANNA is a non-profit company that provides a daily meal Monday through Friday to people who are disabled or otherwise unable to cook for themselves. The group provides this service to the greater Gadsden region.

On a daily basis, MANNA delivers 225 meals. Many of these meals are specially prepared for specific dietary needs such as diabetic, low sodium or pureed.

The meals cost $3.35 each. Depending on their financial situation, clients pay full price, half price or nothing. 

MANNA volunteers work only one day a week, every week, driving one of the 22 different routes to deliver the food to the clients. It typically takes an hour to an hour and a half. They pick up the food from Riverview Regional Hospital, where it is prepared by Marson’s Health Care. At the end of their route, volunteers return to Riverview with yesterday’s insulated trays, which are what the food is delivered on. 

According to Duyen Stokes, former director of the program, volunteers offer more than just the food.

“Our volunteers offer friendship,” said Stokes. “They see them {the clients] every week.”

The program also provides a valuable safety check. 

“We had one volunteer find her client fallen down,” said Stokes. “He had been there since the night before.”

A large part of MANNA’s financial needs are met by donations. Riverview Regional provides the program with office space and telephones and alleviates the program’s need to pay rent, light or phone bills. 

As a United Way program, MANNA also receives some city funding and qualify for FEMA funding. Despite that, a large number of its donations come from local businesses and individuals. 

Individuals who are seeking MANNA’s help with a daily meal can apply over the phone. Unfortunately, there are wait lists, which are longer in some areas than others.

For more information about volunteering, donating or applying, call 256-543-5876.

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