Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Manna on Main Street:  A beacon of hope in Montgomery County’s fight against hunger

Kaitlyn Recchiuti
Serving the Community: Manna on Main St volunteers prepare food during the 2023 holiday season in Lansdale, PA

Montgomery County, despite being the second wealthiest county in the state, faces a stark reality:  over 49,000 households live in poverty. 

Amid this disparity, Manna on Main Street is a non-profit organization that provides hope with a simple but powerful mission:  to ensure that “everyone might be fed.” Beyond serving those below the poverty line, Manna strives to aid anyone who needs support. Volunteers are instrumental to the success of the organization.

“From corporations to schools to churches, the variety and volume of groups that want to come and support us blows my mind on a regular basis.” explained Meg Currie Teoh, Director of Volunteer and Community Engagement.

 She says she finds daily inspiration in seeing “the best of humanity every day” in Manna’s volunteers and staff.


Comprehensive Programs for Diverse Needs

Manna on Main Street employs a multifaceted approach to combat hunger in our community through various programs, including Manna’s Kitchen To-go Meals, Manna’s Kitchen Sit-down Meals, Meals on Wheels, and Manna’s Market In-person and Online Ordering. They cater to diverse dietary needs, offering vegetarian and non-pork options and actively seeking feedback to enhance cultural appropriateness and diversity. The Meals on Wheels program aids those who cannot physically visit Manna by delivering meals directly to them. 

Manna’s Market,  one of the most advanced and organized food pantries in the North Penn region, operates on the principle of “dignity of choice.” 

Sheldon C. Good, Director of Development and Strategic Direction, explains that shoppers “are able to choose what they want” instead of being handed prepackaged food. This approach reduces waste and addresses individual dietary needs and preferences. 

Serving 1,600 households in the last year, the only requirement is Montgomery County residency. Not only does Manna’s Market offer a multitude of options and varieties of food that you would see in an average supermarket, but they also make sure all customers feel like they belong. Manna’s Market also features thoughtful touches like a back door exit and a children’s reading room, fostering a positive and shame-free environment. The market operates on a point system, which was recently adjusted to allow more food access per visit, with healthier items costing fewer points to encourage nutritious choices. Manna’s Market recently launched online ordering to provide a convenient customer pick-up option. 

In the future, Manna hopes to increase accessibility to more households in need by adding a delivery offering to Manna’s Market. Susan O’Neil, Director of Market Operations, makes it a point to get to know her customers personally. She works to create a safe and welcoming environment, acknowledging that it can be humbling to seek help. Karen Bade, a beneficiary of Manna’s offerings, shares in an interview for Manna’s 10-year campaign how she has never been met with condemnation or bias but instead with open arms and a willingness to help. 

Smiling, Stacked and Stocked: Manna volunteers stock the shelves for the NP Community. (Kaitlyn Recchiuti )

Empowerment through Support

In addition to these core food programs, Manna also offers programs like Manna’s Shower, Manna’s Emergency Financial Assistance Program, and Common Grounds Training Program, helping families become more independent. Manna’s Common Grounds Training Program addresses joblessness, a root cause of financial distress and food insecurity. This free eight-week program provides trainees with practical experience in food production and cafe operations. To date, nearly ninety trainees have graduated, including Virgil Pearson, who stepped directly into employment post-training, providing a life-changing opportunity impact. 

Impact of the COVID Pandemic

A significant factor that affects how Manna operates today is the impact of COVID-19 on the community. When the pandemic hit, the government increased monthly payments to every SNAP recipient family. SNAP is a supplemental nutrition assistance program also known as food stamps. This federal government program benefits low and no-income families to ensure they are receiving the nutrition they need. When COVID was no longer considered a public health emergency, they reverted to their original monthly payment. Seemingly overnight, the average Pennsylvania household lost $181 a month. Soon after this, Manna saw a significant jump in customers in need, with a 40% increase in households served monthly.

Getting the Word Out

Communication is vital for Manna on Main Street. To ensure wide accessibility, Manna translates all customer-facing materials into the seven most prominent languages in the North Penn community and has Spanish speakers on staff. Manna utilizes multiple communication strategies to ensure everyone who needs support is aware of Manna’s programs. While some outreach and campaigning are used, Manna primarily relies on partnerships with local police stations and relationships with North Penn School District principals and counselors to increase awareness of the organization’s programs. Police departments provide Manna-prepared bags of shelf-stable food and information about Manna’s services. Word of mouth remains a vital communication tool in learning about Manna’s offerings and opportunities. Community-based sharing about the organization is critical to solving the issue of food insecurity in the community and building an extensive and reliable volunteer network.  

Looking Ahead:  More services, more help needed

Manna is working to improve accessibility, bringing food to more people in need by expanding their online grocery hub through a newly purchased second location. The ongoing challenge of the organization is the need for continuous food donations and volunteers. Manna invites the North Penn community to participate in various events like the Race to End Hunger held at Knapp Elementary School in April. This event requires hundreds of volunteers and participants. Manna welcomes the help of the North Penn community, including North Penn High School students. As a volunteer-driven organization, Manna relies on a network committed to working to support their mission of ending hunger. It is a year-round endeavor because although volunteering tends to be seasonal, hunger is not. The need for volunteers and food donations is especially high between April through October every year. 

Manna leaders convey the importance of collectively acknowledging that hunger exists in the  North Penn community. Most students have classmates who are food insecure and need help, but this is not well known because, as Good puts it, “it [food insecurity] is often invisible.” 


Three key actions that Manna on Main Street asks you to consider to help address the food insecurity issue in our North Penn community:

  1. If you are in need, Manna is here for you, and they welcome you to join their caring community. 
  2. Calling all volunteers: Opportunities to donate food and to serve as a volunteer are available to high school students.  Sign-up is easy, and the reward is endless.
  3. Spread the word: Manna on Main Street relies on the community to increase awareness about this critical community resource and the opportunities that exist to support it. 

Additional information is available at


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