Manna House has been serving—without charge—a hot lunch every day of the year to whoever comes through our doors, all through the generosity of Cenla’s true community for over two decades! This remarkable run has been made possible by our cheerful volunteers in service; our wonderful donors of monetary and material goods; our schoolchildren, youth and collegians from institutions both public and private; our civic and corporate team players; our close-by hospital kitchen; local supermarkets and donut shop; the generous farmers and hunters who surprise us at the door bearing the bounty of their skills; and you! We are grateful for your partnership, which has made possible the beginning of our 21st year of serving the greatest need in our midst, for the greater good of us all. For, as the weakest link is strengthened, so, too is the rest of the chain. For over 3.5 million meals and counting, we are strong partners!
With all that we have accomplished, there is yet more to achieve. So, how might Cenla’s true community continue to grow strength to strength? Well, your Manna House has a dream! Located in Alexandria’s Sonia Quarters, where our service can be of the greatest benefit to all, the ever-growing need has begun to overwhelm the only home we’ve ever known. From our neighbors who we have come to know and love, walking from publicly subsidized housing; to our immediate neighbors—the Family Playhouse and Boys and Girls Club right across Lee Street; to the numerous churches anchoring seemingly every corner of the Sonia Quarters, to the sprawling Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital complex just up the road, this area is home. Of the bounty of public generosity and by the graces of Mrs. Olla Rae Chicola and family, we have set our sights on a new, more versatile facility, not even two blocks away from our current home.
Dream with us, partners, of an inviting atmosphere of service. Indeed, a learning lab in which, through doing unto others as we would have done unto ourselves were we in similar circumstances, love of neighbor easily approaches, and can even surpass, love of self. This is not Disney World, where fantasies are fabled to come true; this is the real world of Cenla’s true community, where what one might call “the economy of God” is allowed to reign. Dream with us of a welcoming environment where our civic clubs and other community organizations can reserve a room for their respective monthly noontime meetings, dining on the truly delicious offerings of our gifted Manna House chef of the day, for the suggested donation of what they might otherwise pay at a local restaurant. Through the experience, we can witness firsthand, or even hands-on, the far-reaching ripple of benefits provided us all! Dream with us of a property and the corner of Lee and Texas Streets, where an asbestos eyesore is safely razed, while community safety and esteem are raised!
Economic times are difficult; and we are well aware that Cenla’s limited charitable resources must be utilized most efficiently. Manna House has partnered with the Salvation Army to eliminate redundancy, thereby allowing each dollar to stretch even further. Through the agreement, Manna House will provide all charitable hot lunches daily, thereby allowing the Salvation Army to focus on providing breakfast and supper. We have also established a great partner program with the Food Bank of Central Louisiana. The new program is called the “make a Dish Foundation”. When you designate any portion of your tax-deductible monetary gift to the Food Bank, every $1.80 specifically designated as a “Make a Dish” contribution, 10 pounds of food can be purchased for the Food Bank and a matching 10 pounds of USDA products will be provided to Manna House—effectively doubling your contribution!
In Cenla, the need is great, but so is the generosity of our community. It is our dream to continue to provide hot meals to those who hunger for your love. Help us make the dream a reality, as we work to establish a beautiful and inspiring point of hope for our future at the corner of Lee and Texas. With your help, along with great folks at the Salvation Army and Shepherd Center, we can work in concert, while maintaining and mutually enhancing our unique ministries, for the growing common good. Somebody pinch me!