Update on the Manna Village Project
Welcome to The
They say it takes a village to raise a child. The same is true for restoring someone’s life, especially if they’ve lost everything. Those of us who work with the poor and broken are constantly reminded that no single person or agency can do it all. It takes a lot of people working together. Sometimes it takes a whole village.
Many of the people we serve at Manna Café need multiple services and resources, especially when they’re trying to put their lives back together. But here’s the challenge: even when agencies are willing to work together (which frequently happens), these people still have to find a way to get from one agency to the next. This means that the folks who have the fewest resources have to drive from agency to agency for help — if they’re lucky enough to own a car. If not, they might spend several hours walking or riding the bus to organizations where they may or may not get assistance. Manna Café is just one agency, and as much as we’d like to (and sometimes try to) do everything, we can’t. But what if we create a community of like-minded people and agencies who are committed to restoring the lives of those who need a hand to get back on their feet? What if we build a village — a place of hope where folks can be loved, counseled, and supported all at the same time?
This is Manna Café’s next step — to create such a village. On the following pages, you’ll see the nuts and bolts of what it will take to make this happen. The heart behind this entire project is to see lives rebuilt through practical resources built on the foundation of the love of Jesus.
The Manna Village is a 44,000 square foot complex consisting of four buildings. Building One (dubbed the Big House) is a two-story, 22,000 square foot building dating back to the Civil War. A large portion of the main floor will be used as the intake office/waiting room for Manna’s food distribution clients. The remainder will be divided into offices and workspaces, leaving plenty of space to focus on our health clinic in partnership with Dr. Christopher Standley of Dynamic Healing. The rest of the space will be available for other partnering agencies. The perimeter of the second floor of the Big House will be divided into offices, meeting rooms, and conference rooms. In the center will be a huge, open room that can be used as a worship center or a venue for concerts, conferences, or other speaking events.
The next building (6,000 square feet) will be converted into the Refuge Community Center. It will consist of a large multipurpose room for community meals, church services, a training center, and much needed programs like Celebrate Recovery. We’ll also create two areas to be used for training or as breakout rooms. We’ll add a few smaller areas for computer labs and case work. Finally, we’ll install a fully operational kitchen to support the activities in the Refuge Center.
Buildings 3 and 4 are identical. Together, they consist of six bays 25 feet wide and 100 feet long (i.e., each warehouse is 7,500 square feet). We’ll divide two bays in Building 3 into smaller spaces for use by partner agencies such as clothing ministries, furniture ministries, and workforce-type organizations. The remaining bay will house Manna’s main commercial kitchen to support our meal programs. In Building 4, we’ll sort and store our food inventory.
We’re confident that the Manna Village is exactly where it’s supposed to be, as the need for resources is dire. The neighborhood surrounding the Village (New Providence, Clarksville) is among the least safe in Montgomery county: “68.5% of the children in this area live in poverty, … a higher rate of childhood poverty than 97.9% of U.S. neighborhoods. … 95.2% of the adult residents do not have a 4-year college degree .… This neighborhood has an income lower than 88.1% of U.S. neighborhoods” (neighborhoodscout.com).
Manna Café Ministries serves people in need in Clarksville/Montgomery County through a soup kitchen on wheels, food box distribution, and other vital resources. Propelled chiefly by volunteers, Manna Café strives to restore hope, dignity, self-reliance, community, and the love of God through Jesus Christ.
In 2004, Kenny York was a missionary in Nashville, TN, who utilized his love for cooking by overseeing a weekly meal for the homeless and poor. In 2007, he scrawled the plan for Manna Café Ministries in a notebook. In 2008, he took the first steps toward launching Manna Café by taking donated bread and sweets—and soon after, hot meals—into a local homeless camp, along with friend Vicki, who is now his wife.
Manna Café was chartered as a non-profit in February 2009; fifteen months later, after area leaders expressed the need for such an organization, the Yorks relocated to Clarksville. Three days later, the Flood of 2010 hit, and Kenny launched full speed into disaster relief via food distribution.A few days later, Manna Café served its first mobile, outdoor hot meal to 35 guests.
Since then, Manna Café has experienced a 3,600% increase in pounds of food distributed since its inception. One meal per week has become six, with peak attendance at 200+ people at a single meal. Two hundred food boxes distributed in May 2010 became 25,000 within five years. In 2018, for the fifth year in a row, Manna Café distributed more than 1.5 million pounds of food to roughly 20,000 local residents.
WHAT ARE ALL THE PHASES, AND HOW MUCH WILL EACH ONE COST?
This phase consists of converting Building 2 into a community center. This will require painting; electrical and plumbing work; installing a sprinkler system and commercial kitchen; building offices; and constructing a parking lot.
Set to begin in 2019, this phase consists of renovating Building 1 (“the Big House”). Projects will include rewiring and plumbing; installing a sprinkler system, walk-in coolers/freezers, and an elevator; building offices and a loading dock; and paving an additional parking lot.
The final phase will entail the renovation of Buildings 3 and 4. Along with rewiring and plumbing, we will install a full-scale commercial kitchen, laundry facility, and bathrooms.
(The Big House)
- Food distribution
- Worship venue
- Health clinic
- Partner agencies
(Refuge Community Center)
- Multipurpose main room
- Training rooms
- Computer lab
- Commercial kitchen
Buildings 3 & 4
- Partner agencies
- Main commercial kitchen
- Food inventory
The Manna Village
The Manna Village will include many exciting elements, one of which will be the Manna Green Space. This area will capture the beauty of Tennessee greenery while providing a place for people to relax, take a walk, and enjoy the outdoors. This space, including the attached parking lot, will be open to naming opportunities from a generous donor.
In our community, one in four children, and one in six adults, suffer from food insecurity: they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. One-third of these children are not income-eligible for federal programs such as free school lunches. For this reason, our goal is to first meet people’s basic need for food, and then guide them toward positive, permanent change. We accomplish this through six dynamic programs:
FOOD BOX DISTRIBUTION PROGRAM
- Approximately 2,000 grocery boxes (40+ lbs.) distributed annually
- In operation three times per week (M–W–F)
- One-day events to distribute groceries to 300+ families
- In partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle TN
- Carried out at various locations in Montgomery and Stewart Counties 7–12 times per year
- Hot meals served at satellite locations throughout Clarksville
- Occurring 5 times per week
- More than 23,000 plates served each year
- Monthly training sessions focusing on healthy food preparation
- Distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables
PICKIN’ UP MANNA
- “Rescue” of viable, surplus food from restaurants, grocery stores, etc.
- One million pounds rescued annually, then paired with the hungry
- Warming centers during extreme weather
- Free health clinic (in cooperation with Dr. C. Standley/Dynamic Healing
- Food, clothing, blanket, and hygiene distribution
To accomplish all these ventures, Manna Café utilizes approximately 500 volunteer hours per week. We are the county’s go-to nonprofit for community service hours, college social service credits, and mentoring projects (such as Food Initiative). We offer job skills training to mentally and/or physically challenged individuals in cooperation with other organizations.
Manna Cafe has an established reputation in the community for generosity and integrity. They have enjoyed significant support from myriad organizations including Publix and Walmart; 5 Star Radio Group; area restaurants; city leaders; local churches and businesses; and Austin Peay State University.
2010–2019: The City and County proclaim the second Saturday of November “Combat Hunger Day” in recognition of Manna Café.
2012: Manna Café receives the Unity in the Community Award.
2013: Manna Café wins the Leaf-Chronicle Reader’s Choice Award for Favorite Social Service agency out of 29 nominees.
2014: Founder Kenny York is named the city’s Favorite Community Activist.
2014: The ninth annual Clarksville Chamber Community Commitment award is granted to founder Kenny York.
2017: Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle TN designates Manna Café one of just eight Service Hubs in a 46-county area.
2018: Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle TN names Manna Café an Outstanding Grocery Rescue Partner, pointing to their strong relationships with grocery store management in the area.
The Manna Village will be a community of like-minded people and agencies who are committed to restoring the lives of those in Clarksville and Montgomery County with the greatest needs. It will be a place of hope where folks can be loved, counseled, and supported all at the same time.
There are numerous ways to contribute to the Manna Village. These include one-time gifts, multi-year pledges, and legacy gifts. There is also a need for donated labor and services, which are often just as helpful as monetary gifts.
We will also offer naming opportunities at the Manna Village. This might include a plaque that reads, “Kitchen provided by Jim Smith” for a donor who fully funds the commercial kitchen or a plate that reads, “Computer Room made possible by Smith Company” for a donor who fully stocks a room with computers and desks.
Your contribution will have untold impact in the lives of countless people in our city. Thank you for standing with us in this mission.
A final word
As founders of Manna Café, we know that, in order for the Manna Village to operate and be successful, it’s going to take a lot of people with a heart for the poor, hungry, and broken. Please pray about getting involved whether through finances, labor, or service. Our vision is that Clarksville will be a city of people who will join forces and make sacrifices in order to take care of our own. We believe the Manna Village is going to shift things in our community forever. Please don’t miss out on being part of it.
Kenny and Vicki York
We Need Your Help
In order for this village to operate and be successful, it is going to take a lot of people. Become a villager today by getting involved whether through finances, labor, or service.
The Manna Village is going to shift things in our city and change our community forever.
We’re asking you to be a part of it.
You can jump in and get your hands dirty now. Sign up below and get to work!
1960-J Madison St. #312
Clarksville, TN 37043
There businesses and individuals have chosen to become “Villagers.” They are sponsoring Manna Café on this adventure. We encourage you to become villagers too and join us!