Twenty-five years ago a box of soup and a group of students started a community-wide effort to alleviate hunger in our region. Since 1991, Project MANA has responded to the emergency food needs of community members while empowering individuals, families and children.
While mention of Tahoe elicits idyllic mountain fantasies, life for local residents can be wrought with hidden struggles. In fact, 27% of Tahoe-Truckee residents live under 200% of the poverty level with Project MANA serving 160,000 meals just last year. These are our neighbors and coworkers who just need a helping hand.
At Project MANA’s heart is a commitment to serve the whole person and/or family. Over the years, Project MANA has developed a full spectrum of services through their dedication to collaborative partnerships with public and private organizations and individuals.
Project MANA, who hosts 70 volunteers per week, began with AmeriCorps and Vista volunteers delivering emergency food relief and Thanksgiving distributions. “Let’s Talk Turkey” continues to ensure that hundreds of local families can celebrate a happy, healthy holiday. School education programs, such as “Kids Can Cook” and “Nutrition Education,” instill awareness and healthy habits in our youth and their families. For homebound community members restricted by health limitations, The FACE program provides food and companionship exchange.
Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) joined Project MANA’s community partners when both organizations were just beginning. In sixteen years, TTCF has funded staff and volunteers, general support, food purchase and projects. A TTCF grant helped Project MANA purchase its first refrigerated truck to rescue donated perishable food for emergency distribution that would otherwise go to waste. When the 2008 economic downturn increased local food insecurity by more than 50%, TTCF provided emergency funding for Project MANA so it could keep up with the immense need.
“TTCF’s support has been critical to our mission and to the success of our programs and the people we serve,” said Heidi Allstead, Project MANA’s Executive Director.
Kings Beach Community House, a multi-year capital campaign and building renovation facilitated by TTCF, was completed in 2012 and became a base for Project MANA. The shared space helps Project MANA, the North Tahoe Family Resource Center and Tahoe SAFE Alliance, envelop a community member with the integrated services necessary to get them on their feet faster.
TTCF is honored to be Project MANA’s longtime partner and its work to relieve hunger in North Tahoe-Truckee.
If you’d like to become involved in Project MANA’s mission, visit www.givebacktahoe.org to view their current volunteer opportunities.
This article first appeared in Sierra Sun, our partner with the Give Back Tahoe Giving Guide. Every Wednesday edition, TTCF shares stories on the Give Back Tahoe page to elevate our nonprofit community and the work these organizations do. If you would like to learn more, sign up for our newsletter.