Manna Ministries assisting with food insecurity after tornadoes

ALABASTER – After tornadoes ripped through the state during the last two weeks of March, many families who were already facing food insecurity had their situations worsened by the destruction from the storms.

Manna Ministries, a nonprofit food share outreach program, stepped in to help with the relief efforts through their food donation program.

According to Manna Board Member Melanie Siow, one of the greatest needs that they saw was in Brierfield, where many houses had been destroyed.

“That first week that the tornadoes came through we got a call from the Brierfield Fire Department saying that they had a lot of families in need of food,” Siow explained. “We packed around 50 boxes that we then shipped to Ashby Baptist Church, who organized the relief operation in the community.”

Siow said that members of Manna went out and had an opportunity to see the destruction in the city, and saw firsthand how great the need was for the residents there.

“It was incredible,” Siow said. “Even at Ashby Baptist Church, they were doing the food distribution without electricity and the steeple had been knocked off the church. They made it work though, they set up a mobile command center where they handed out the food.”

Aside from their efforts in Bibb County, Manna Ministries also saw an increased need in their own community.

According to Siow, the group serves around 325 families a week through their food distribution service. They also have a free pantry that anyone can come and take items out of that they call “Rebecca’s Box,” which mainly holds non-perishable items.

“We saw a huge increase in our normal distribution during the pandemic, however with the tornadoes we actually saw a little bit of a decrease,” Siow said. “We think this is because people did not have electricity and they were worried about the food spoiling. During this time, we actually saw an increase in people taking the items out of ‘Rebecca’s Box’.”

Siow said that they are diligent in keeping the pantry refilled, and has board members constantly checking on it so that anyone in need will have access to basic food items.

Even though the increased need is not ideal for the community, Siow said that it has made the organization be more prepared to respond to disasters.

“We are totally a volunteer operation and all donations go straight to food and relief efforts,” Siow explained. “This allows us to be ready so we can have food and supplies ready to go in case of an emergency. We want people to know that all donations go straight to helping people.”

Manna Ministries provides food distribution for people in need all year. Siow said that they are always looking for donations to help further their cause.

More information about their efforts or donations can be found on the Manna Ministries Facebook page.