Project MANA food drive kicks off this week |

Project MANA food drive kicks off this week

Local charity group Project M.A.N.A. is asking Truckee residents to join in their efforts to stop hunger by supporting their drive to collect food for needy families in the area.

“We’re looking forward to a great program,” said Trisha Louie, coordinator of Truckee’s Project M.A.N.A., which is spearheading a brown bag food drive in Truckee, which ends on Sept. 5.

Sierra Sun readers can help out just by picking up their newspaper – Project M.A.N.A. brown bags for donations have been inserted randomly in 1,000 of today’s newspapers. If you didn’t get a bag in today’s paper, Project M.A.N.A. will still gladly take donations from you; just bring food to the drop-off locations listed at the end of this story.

An acronym for Making Adequate Nutrition Accessible, Project M.A.N.A. is a non-profit program providing food for hungry families in entire North Tahoe/Truckee area.

One of three offices, Truckee’s Project M.A.N.A. was started three years ago after Kings Beach and Incline Village branches opened in 1993 as a college project by a local student Ann Ryan. The offices are partially funded by a federal grant from Volunteers In Service to America – the federal VISTA program, which is related to Americorp. VISTA members are placed in low-income areas nationwide to run hunger abatement, literacy, urban housing, art and community garden projects. Most of M.A.N.A.’s funding comes from private sources.

“We try and help people help themselves,” said Louie, who added that M.A.N.A. accepts food regularly throughout the year.

Louie said that Project M.A.N.A now serves some 38,000 meals annually representing 4,000 households. Currently, Truckee’s branch serves 70 families in the area with about three new families joining each week. Few families leave the program entirely, but continue to show up sporadically for the six bags that each household is allotted in a year. Louie hopes that Friday’s drive will boost M.A.N.A. stores of canned food for winter distribution.

“Truckee is not low-income, but there are places in town where there is a demand for support,” Louie explained. She said that M.A.N.A.’s main customers are locals who are homeless, unemployed or earning very little income.

Project M.A.N.A. receives a regular supply of donated food, part of it from private donations and most from local merchants as well as other area groups such as the weekly farmers’ market. Louie said that she will not take any cooked food, though she will accept most leftovers, excluding meat, for composting.

“Sometimes we have perfectly good produce but merchants don’t think they can sell it because it’s slightly worn out,” she said.

Lisa’s Organic and New Moon Organic Foods as well as Safeway and Albertson’s donate about 80 pounds of food a week, but Louie said that she is constantly looking for new sources.

“We don’t want anything to go to waste so we take anything they’ve got,” Louie said, adding that she hopes to expand M.A.N.A. “We will take food from anywhere we can get it.”

M.A.N.A. relies on volunteers – predominantly women – who drive to pick up and deliver food from as far away as the Nevada food bank in Reno.

A typical delivery includes two bags of rice, cereal and ten vegetables, which clients can help choose on Tuesdays when the supplies are distributed. However, Louie has final say on what each family get will get depending on their size, which Louie said seems to be steadily growing. If family members work for M.A.N.A., they can pack a bag for themselves.

Louie said that the most of the needy families are migrant workers in the are who are sometimes not paid enough to sustain themselves. Of Truckee’s 70 families, Louie said that about half are Caucasian and half Hispanic.

This year is Truckee’ first food drive, though the other M.A.N.A. offices have been holding drives for several years. Louie hopes to collect one thousand bags of food.

“I’m thinking that people here are pretty generous,” she said, expecting that 80 percent of recipients will return the bags full.

“I definitely don’t want the program to end,” she said about M.A.N.A.’s efforts to alleviate hunger. “I want to give people the confidence that they can’t anywhere else. I want to help families sustain themselves.”

For Friday’s drive, M.A.N.A. is looking for such items as peanut butter, tomato sauce, pasta, canned and dry beans, rice, tuna, canned fruit and vegetables, soup and cereal.

M.A.N.A. also accepts money donations, which donators can put in envelopes behind the orange flyers attached to the bags.

M.A.N.A. is accepting donation drop-offs at four Truckee locations:

– 7-Eleven on Palisades Drive and Highway 267

– U.S. Bank at Donner Pass Road

– Albertson’s at Crossroads shopping center on Deerfield Drive

– The fire station on Donner Pass Road.

For more information on Project M.A.N.A.’s food drive in Truckee, call (530) 582-4079.

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