Project Manna, which serves the Union Local School District, has moved into one of Epworth Center’s five cabins. Project Manna is thankful for the generous hospitality of the Bethesda United Methodist Church, who housed the pantry for many years. Because of the increase of neighbors coming to the pantry, there was a need for a larger space. Just a few years ago, the pantry assisted about 15-20 households a month; those number are now averaging 45-50 per month.
Rev. Dawn Livingston, executive director of the Epworth Center said, “We expect to have even more people coming. We have seen more elderly folks coming, and we serve a lot of people who are trying to keep up with rental increases.”
The move is also to benefit Project Manna’s neighbors. Since more retired folks are utilizing the pantry, there was a need to eliminate steps. The renovated cabin has an accessible ramp.
Another reason for the move is the opportunity for Project Manna to become a choice food pantry.
Livingston said, “In our work with Bridges Out of Poverty and ministry with our neighbors, it’s been laid on our hearts to become a choice food pantry. There are many reasons for this. It helps with the overall feel of Project Manna by providing our neighbors with a voice/choice. Many people who are struggling can feel they do not have a voice. We believe everyone should have a choice. It also helps us be better stewards of our resources. Think of it this way, what if is there a food you may not be particularly fond of (peas, clam chowder, etc), and what if in your monthly food supply you were given the food you prefer not to eat? What would you do with it? We know that some of the food we have given out in pre-packed bags doesn’t get used. We want to change that.”
There have been so many people who have supported the cabin renovation and launching of a choice food pantry. There were countless volunteer hours spent on the pantry by SOWER Work Mission groups, local servant volunteers, and local church groups. There were many who donated specifically to the pantry. To-date, Project Manna would like to thank the following:
Generous donors: Belmont Savings Bank, Bethesda UMC, BBM Rotary, District 6690 Rotary, East Ohio Conference Youth Service Fund, East Ohio UM Foundation, Riesbecks, various anonymous donations, Village Hardware & Rental.
SOWER Work Mission Teams and others who worked on the renovation: Calvary Presbyterian, St. C., Carrolton First UMC, OH, East Richland Christian School, East Richland Friends Church, First Presbyterian Church, MI, Little Blessing Makers, OH, Local Servant Volunteers, Sugar Grove UMC, OH, Tallmadge UMC, OH, Wacousta Community UMC, MI.
Project Manna will be open the second and fourth Fridays, monthly, from 9 - 11 a.m. at Cabin #1 at the Epworth Center, 301 N. Main St., Bethesda (behind the Bethesda United Methodist Church). Project Manna serves the Union Local School District.
If you would like to make a donation to Project Manna, you may mail a check to PO Box 538, Bethesda, OH 43719. Contact them at 740-484-4705 to donate food items, or to take a tour of the pantry. Visit their website at www.epworthcenter.org or like them on Facebook at Project Manna Choice Food Pantry.  September is Hunger Action Month - what a great time to reach out to a local pantry!