Hunger Amid Abundance: Manna’s Symposium on Hunger
This morning Manna Food Center was proud to invite our partner agencies, donors, volunteers, and county community members to the Bohrer Park Activity Center in Gaithersburg in commemoration of our organization’s 30th anniversary. Though the symposium did highlight the great work of Manna Food Center and so many of its partner organizations over the past three decades, it was a sobering reminder that as long as there are people who need Manna’s services, there is much work yet to be done. The call to action began with our colleagues at Maryland Hunger Solutions and was perhaps heard most loudly when Laura Flamm, a Hunger Solutions nutrition associate, called the congressional switchboard in the middle of her presentation.
The remarks of our closing speaker, Todd Post from Bread for the World Institute, underscored the message that all symposium participants make advocacy a top priority. Until we reach the goal of ending hunger, food programs must do better to provide healthier food packages and promote “nutrition banking”, as discussed by Jodi Balis of Capital Area Food Bank. We must also improve communication between service providers to be sure we are offering clients the holistic help needed to become self-sufficient. Indeed, Terry Seamons, co-director of the food program at Adventist Community Services emphasized the need for not just a “hand out but a hand up” and Uma Ahluwalia, Director of the Montgomery County DHHS stressed the importance of eliminating the current “economy of dependence.”
Most of all, we’d like to extend a profound thank you to those who took to the podium and shared their own experiences with food insecurity. These stories and those of the over 40,000 families we serve on an annual basis need to be heard by all of our elected officials, and it is these voices that will continue to motivate the work we do at Manna each and every day.