The mission of Manna is to provide, in the spirit of faith and love, nourishing meals and supportive services in an atmosphere of acceptance and caring for those in need.
Manna Soup Kitchen was founded in May, 1985. The previous winter, a woman died from starvation in a horse stall at the La Plata County Fairgrounds in Durango, Colorado. Scrawled on the wall beside her were the words, "nobody cares." This tragedy resulted in a small group of Christians organizing to provide food for those in the community who were experiencing hunger.
Currently, Manna serves nearly 60,000 meals per year including breakfast, a hot lunch, and hot and cold to-go dinners. While the mission of Manna is still to feed those in need, the organization has expanded its services to include skills training programs to prepare people for jobs in the food industry and gain greater self-sufficiency. By doing this, Manna is contributing to the overall health and economic vitality of the region.
In 2020, Manna and The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado merged to address the root causes of poverty, hunger and hardship in our community. This union comes after 15 years of focused collaboration between the two nonprofits, including sharing of programs, participants, grant funds, volunteers, and tangible resources. Through this partnership, Manna will expand its services to feed community; offer job training and life skills; strengthen food equity by providing access to healthy, locally grown foods; provide supportive services; and offer a garden education programs that focus on nutrition, self-sufficiency, and food security.
Manna experienced an unprecedented year in light of COVID-19. During shutdowns in April, we served 11,272 meals. Our momentum has persisted, as we continue to serve 9,000 to 10,000 meals monthly - doubling our pre-pandemic output. And this only scratches the surface of our work. Thousands of take-home backpacks fed local students; over 70,000 of bulk groceries were distributed; and we safely reinstated our client service, culinary, and garden programs. We've shown up every day to serve our community and will continue to do so. We ask for your donation, so we can keep our neighbors fed through any hardship.
"Manna knows that 'life' is about touching someone's heart. They know that with a smile or a welcome they are adding value to a person's life."
"I am Alyssa Neskahi, freshman at Fort Lewis College, a part of, 'A Day In the Life Of,' first-year launch course. I would just like to say thank you for all the meals you have provided during our in-person class sessions. To Ann Morse, the director and Seanan Culloty, the chef , it is very much appreciated from us, the students here at FLC to have the resource of balanced meals. I also, would like to say how great of a resource the Manna Soup Kitchen is because not only is there weekly meals provided for anyone, but it allows some people to try new things. I say this because coming from the Navajo reservation, crops are harvested differently than how Manna does it. I very much enjoyed the meals Manna has provided and definitely will invite my family to try on their next visit. Thank you again and take care!"
"I want to give you a big, huge thanks for helping me make progress towards being self-sufficient. The fact that you were able to help me with a bus pass and ID has been huge. Now I have my third job interview with a local restaurant and am working towards self-sufficiency."
"The Manna Culinary Program opened doors for me that I didn't know existed. I learned so much and didn't want to leave at the end of 10 weeks! Rebecca and the team at Manna are super supportive and always there to teach, encourage, and guide their students toward new beginnings."
"You do extraordinary work to make Durango a kinder, gentler, better place. Once a month my eight year old grandson and I spend a Sunday morning in your kitchen helping to prepare a breakfast for your clients. It's very little but for Emmett and me it has become a powerful tradition and a very special element of our relationship."
"Your low cost CSA program allowed us to eat high quality produce that we wouldn't have been able to afford."