A heart made of strawberries is surrounded by fresh produce.

FRESH NEWS February 2024

Monthly News from MANNA FoodBank



Discover the transformative journey of the Incentive Wage Program.


This month, let us consider our commitment to equity.

And don't miss:

  • Using SNAP at Farmers' Markets
  • Did You Know...
  • Recognitions + Gratitude

15th Annual Student Food Drive

This month marks the 15th Annual Student Food Drive. Good luck to all participating!

At MANNA FoodBank, we believe in the power of second chances and the transformative potential of opportunity.

This month, we are incredibly honored to share with you a first-hand look at MANNA's Incentive Wage Program (IWP), a pioneering initiative that offers female inmates a pathway to skill development, empowerment, and community reintegration.

Working For Change

How MANNA Is Helping Inmates Prepare for The Future By KC Johnson

[Editor’s Note: MANNA has opted to identify IWP program participants using their initials for security and privacy purposes.] 

In Asheville, North Carolina, MANNA FoodBank works to provide around 20 million meals a year, along with the help of over 200 donor agencies, and hundreds of individual volunteers. 

One group of six women, known as the “IWP Folks,” are doing their part at MANNA to help others, while transforming their own troubled pasts into positive futures. They are part of the Incentive Wage Project at Western Correctional Center for Women, a minimum-security camp in Black Mountain, North Carolina.  


Anyone who has the opportunity to visit – or better yet, volunteer with – MANNA will see an organization dedicated to their mission to “involve, educate, and unite people in the work of ending hunger in Western North Carolina.” What they will not see is the impact they have on those behind the scenes. 


The Incentive Wage Project with MANNA first started in 1998, (there were two breaks, one due to COVID-19 institutional lockdowns), resumed in 2021. Currently, it is overseen by David Velez, the Assistant Warden of Programs at WCCW. To even be eligible for this highly coveted job, one must meet rigorous criteria, including no recent infractions and less than three years remaining. In addition, Velez selects those who have shown a commitment to change, personal growth, and trustworthiness

It is not about the money. As IWP, the women are only able to earn $1 a day, while working full-time, 40 hours a week, alongside paid employees. They stay from several months to a year or more, until eligible for work-release (a paid job, through prison contract), are released, or in rare instances, let go for an infraction. 

_ _ _ 

While with MANNA, they receive valuable job training, such as forklift and reach truck certifications. Also, they learn inventory control, reclaim, and distribution procedures. 

AS, 30, started in March 2023 as an order-picker. She tells me “the skills I have learned” will be beneficial to gaining employment once released. 

RJ, 45, is originally from Arizona, and began in July 2023. She works in the reclaim department where they process between seven and ten thousand pounds of food daily, all donated from Ingles Markets, Inc. For RJ, “The opportunity to do something positive” where she “admires their values,” means the most.  


The Volunteer Center is the true backbone of MANNA, with an average of 60 volunteers a day; most are regulars. 

HE, 36, is a volunteer associate and assists in organizing projects and training new volunteers. She started in September 2023 and “likes working with the people,” because here, “I’m not looked at like a criminal.” 

This is the general consensus from all of the IWP participants. At MANNA, they are treated like all employees, including participating in staff meetings, field days, and planning.  

Many employees, such as Michelle B., MANNA’s bookkeeper, feel IWP are central to daily operations, stating, “We couldn’t do what we are [doing] without the program.” 

Read More at Our Website

New Video: Using SNAP Benefits at Farmers' Markets

Did you know that you can use SNAP (food stamps) at our local farmers' markets? It's true! There's even a way to double up your SNAP dollars for fresh produce for free. In our new series, we break down the process, offering practical tips and insights to make your shopping experience enjoyable and accessible. Join us in supporting local farmers and promoting healthy eating for all.


Honoring Black History Month

A Commitment to Equity

February marks Black History Month, a period to reflect on the rich tapestry of Black history in the United States. It's a time to acknowledge the progress made through activism and advocacy, while also recognizing the ongoing work for Black equity and inclusion.

At MANNA FoodBank, our commitment to equity drives our mission. We acknowledge the systemic injustices of racism, which perpetuate poverty, hunger, and health disparities. We confront bias and inequity head-on, developing solutions to hunger that are community-driven, equitable, and accessible to all. Our programs and policy efforts strive to build a society where everyone can thrive, celebrating diversity and working together to overcome injustices that divide us.

Together, let's ensure that no one goes hungry, regardless of race or background.

Read MANNA's Full Equity Commitment 

Thank You To Those Contributing to a Beautiful Start to 2024:

We'd like to thank the following Foundations for their support of our food distribution efforts:

  • David & Nicole Tepper Foundation
  • Community Foundation of Henderson County

We'd like to thank the following Corporate Champions for stepping forward to help our neighbors access food:

  • ACM Design
  • ACM Wealth Management
  • Allen Tate/Beverly-Hanks Realtors
  • Altar'd State
  • Barringer Construction
  • Big Cloud Consultants
  • Burmester & Associates, PC
  • DaVita
  • Eaton Corporation
  • Ecolab
  • Funny Business Agency, Inc.
  • Goldsmith Molis & Gray, PLLC
  • Joel Adams and Associates, Inc.
  • K and T Construction Company
  • Little Ceasars - Asheville Investment Partners
  • M.B. Haynes Corporation
  • Mangum Pottery
  • Mast General Store
  • Morrow Insurance Agency, Inc.
  • Mosaix Group
  • Mountain Water Systems
  • NC Retail Merchants Association
  • NearU
  • Panashe Real Estate
  • Partner Engineering and Science, Inc.
  • Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company
  • Pigeon Valley Septic and Grading, Inc.
  • Pine Gate Renewables
  • Radon Control Products
  • Retencity, LLC
  • Robert W. Baird & Co.
  • Sensibilities Day Spa
  • Smart Products, USA
  • Stratus Building Solutions
  • T&S Brass and Bronze Works, Inc.
  • TE Connectivity, Inc.
  • TruPoint Bank

We'd like to thank the following Events and Campaigns for going above and beyond in their efforts:

  • Country Club of Asheville Polar Plunge
  • Cormark International LLC
  • Harris Teeter
  • Ingles Markets
  • Jus Running
  • Quality Oil LLC
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing
  • Wicked Weed Brewing

We'd like to thank the following Feeding America Corporate Sponsors for going above and beyond in their efforts:

  • Superior Plus Propane
  • The TJX Companies Inc
  • Twin Subs Inc,-Jersey Mike's

Did You Know...

CGAs and RMDs, Oh My!

The American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA) increased the maximum rates for Charitable Gift Annuities (CGAs) effective January 1, 2024.

The gross annual expected return on immediate payment and deferred payment gift annuity reserves is 5.75%. To learn more about the increase and new CGA rates visit: https://www.acga-web.org/current-gift-annuity-rates.

Did you know… starting in 2024, Required Minimum Distribution (RMDs) are no longer required from designated Roth accounts. 2023 RMDs due by April 1, 2024, are still required. Your required minimum distribution is the minimum amount you must withdraw from your account each year. You can withdraw more than the minimum required amount. Your withdrawals will be included in your taxable income except for any part that was taxed before (your basis) or that can be received tax-free (such as qualified distributions from designated Roth accounts).

Source: https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-required-minimum-distributions-rmds

To learn more about alternative giving vehicles or estate gifts, please visit https://plannedgiving.mannafoodbank.org/ or contact our Director of Philanthropic Engagement, Chad Conaty at cconaty@mannafoodbank.org or via phone at 828-774-5910.

We Are Hiring!

Come join a team dedicated to ending hunger in WNC! We are currently hiring for a Warehouse Manager, Agency Relations Coordinator, Director of Communications and Marketing and Order Picker/Material Handler. Please help spread the word to your network.



MANNA FoodBank and Ingles Markets have been filling plates together for more than 30 years. Ingles Markets, thank you for your steadfast partnership!

Feed Hope. Fight Hunger.

Thank you for supporting the work we do and for supporting neighbors in need. Together, we can end hunger in Western North Carolina.

Involve. Educate. Unite.

We stand firmly beside those united in seeking positive change, equity, and justice for all. 

Speak Up. Change Lives.

Our mission is to involve, educate, and unite people in the work of ending hunger in Western North Carolina and a critical part of this mission is advocating for those experiencing the effects of income insecurity and food insecurity.

That's where you come in.

We are a non-partisan nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing information about the issues affecting the people we serve, and we do not endorse political parties or candidates. We simply ask community members to work with our elected officials to make legislation that works for us all and makes our region, our state, and our country stronger from the ground up.

Click here if you'd like to receive advocacy-related emails from MANNA FoodBank, and receive information from us about ways you can use your voice and actions to help us end hunger in our region.


Give. Volunteer. Advocate.


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