Help at home

Collaborative focuses on feeding hungry in Blount

Manna from Heaven Food Bank president Stephanie Stieler has a mission - stop money and food flowing from Blount County to help the poor in Knoxville when there is a need here at home.

“The majority of agencies like myself are in Knoxville. My biggest thing is why is food and money going to Knoxville? Why don’t we keep money in a food bank in Blount County?” she said.

“My mantra is: ‘Why is money and food leaving Blount County?’ “

Stieler will host the second “Collaborative Meeting of Blount County” at 10:30 a.m. July 22 at Everett Senior Center. A representative of Second Harvest Food Bank will be on hand to talk about the agencies’ backpack program for underprivileged children who need food, telling people how to get involved and make sure people who don’t have food get what they need, Stieler said.

Stieler said the idea for the first Collaborative Meeting of Blount County on June 17 was to help people realize they can make a difference. “Businesses and agencies working together get to know each other. We want people to get together and get information out,” she said.

Harry Grothjahn with TruthRadio AM 1470 WBCR spoke at the June meeting. He said the collaborative meeting is a vehicle where people who work with non-profit agencies can talk with each other and support each other’s activities if they choose.

“It’s just a means by which to share information and give the government agencies and people the opportunity to say ‘We’ve got these unmet needs out here,’ so they can alert people as to what the needs are,” he said.

Stieler moved to Blount County from California. “We had (a collaborative effort) there, and it worked for us to get together once a month to have a collaboration to see what we could do to uplift and keep poor people off the street. I worked with those people, and I saw there was nothing here,” she said.

Manna from Heaven Food Bank gives out boxes of food each day. Each box contains enough food for a family of four to eat for a week, Stieler said.

The food bank president said she needs money and/or food donations to support the agency’s mission.

“I need a money donation coming from companies that support the mission,” she said. “I am your local food bank that services Blount County.”

Manna from Heaven Food bank is a non-profit 501c3. On their website ( Stieler says Manna is a “regional Food Bank in Blount County for the citizens of Blount County. Our demographic market is simply based on need. We have become a food provider to people unable to fend for themselves due to unemployment, a depressed job market, fixed income, homelessness, or a shelter resident to name a few.”

Manna From Heaven, located at 224 Ellis Ave., primarily receives food and donations from local churches, businesses and private individuals that see the need to have a regional food bank that serves Blount County, according to Stieler’s information on the website.

Manna From Heaven is an agency for America’s Second Harvest, The Community Action (Food Bank) of Blount County, FEMA and United-Way Regional Food Bank, Stieler said. “We are able to buy food for pennies on the dollar to provide for low income citizens. Manna From Heaven has become an integral part of the food chain that helps keep folks well fed and happier to be alive.”

Because the Knoxville companies are better known, often companies, agencies or individuals in Blount County donate food and money to the agencies in Knoxville. This food and money never come back to help the hungry in Blount County, said Stieler.

“Everybody is giving food in downtown Knoxville. Does that make sense?” she said. “God really sent me to Blount County. I prayed and went back to California, and God sent me to Blount County, Maryville.”

Stieler said often people help the food bank even when she doesn’t expect it. “Sometimes I run out of food, and a car stops, and they leave food. The people of Blount County are great,” she said.

To contact Stieler, call Manna From Heaven at 865-983-8023. Manna From Heaven is open for Blount County residents to pick-up food from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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