Fill-A-Bowl for MANNA

15 Jan

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to have the time and opportunity to go the Fill-A-Bowl for MANNA event with my friend, Jaynelle.  Last week, she had sent an email to tell me the event was happening.  We had wanted to go in November, but had a violin concert to go to instead. I knew as soon as I got the email I was in!  Pottery? Delicious Food?  Helping charity? Yes, please!

MANNA is a local, non-profit that is dedicated to feeding hungry locals that would otherwise be without food.  You can see their website here.

We got there early, which was smart, because there was a line started outside of the tent already.  We bought our tickets and made a quick lap around the table to check out the bowls beforehand.  There were so many beautiful bowls–800!—it was hard to pick out just one.  I didn’t get my hopes set on any, as I knew we weren’t the first in line!  My luck, if I had, it would have been taken!

While we were standing in line a representative for the organization talked to us about all the things they were able to accomplish last year.  Much of the data was amazing.  The amount of food and money that was donated and in turn, the number of people they were able to feed was incredible.

With purchasing the $25 ticket, we were entitled to choose a bowl (handmade by local potters) to keep, soup that was donated by local restaurants/caters, cookies and water.  When it was time, Jaynelle, Azaylia and I walked in.  I chose a bowl that stood out from the others…literally, it was much taller than most of the bowls there!  Jaynelle chose a very pretty green and brown guy.  After leaving the ticket/bowl tent, we made our way through an open area that housed the Silent Auction items.  I wish I had extra money to buy a piece and have the proceeds go straight to the organization. There was a set of pottery that was just eyeballing me and begging to be put in some sort of artistic still life!  Someday!

We moved on to the soup tent that housed 20 0r so different soup pots and their chefs.  The options were plenty and I had a hard time deciding what to get.  The man in a handlebar mustache won me over from R & R Fine Catering here in Pensacola. 🙂  My first bowl was a white bean/smoked ham soup with fresh basil on top.  DELICIOUS!  I love bean soup, but all the basil on top was new to me and gave it that extra yumminess.  I tried a second bowl of soup from another caterer, Classic City Catering, that was yukon gold fingerling potato and gouda soup with bacon, chives and cheese on top.  It was so smooth and tasty.  I had to get myself out of that tent before I wanted to try them all!

We finished our food and walked around the gardens where MANNA grows some of its own produce.  It was astonishing to see how many things they still had growing, considering our winter garden didn’t fair so well (darn pests!).  We then took a tour through the facility and learned even more in depth what and how MANNA does what it does.  Volunteering in such a place has been on my mind for awhile anyway, this just sealed the deal.  I will definitely be calling sometime this week to see what I can do as an individual volunteer (with Jaynelle!) and what we could do, if anything, as a family.

My favorite information I learned while we were there though, (and I made sure to call my sister who WILL NOT eat things past their ‘best by’ date–if even then) came when I asked how they address donations that are ‘expired.’  Besides items that include dairy and baby food, they still use it!  The volunteer said the manufacturers have told them it’s okay to eat the product for up to 5 YEARS after the date on the food item. FIVE YEARS. Whoa.  Not sure I’ll ever let it go that long, but nice to know that if it’s not moldy, stale or nasty tasting to me, it’s good enough to eat.  Less waste!  Though truthfully, I’m not sure I’ve ever had anything in my pantry that long!!

I have never been in a situation in my adult life that I have had to rely on such an awesome organization, but I certainly love that such things are available. I will continue to donate food, but on a MUCH regular basis and will find out how I can volunteer otherwise. Rest assured, if I’m still here in November, I’ll be going to the next event. 🙂

Please find a local pantry in your area and find out how you can become involved or at the very least, how you can support them through events like I did yesterday.   Whenever I fill this bowl, I’ll think about what I’ve been doing to help as well.

**Forgive me for the cell phone pictures. I was carrying enough (the baby in the carrier and the diaper bag for 2 1/2 hours!), I didn’t want to carry more and forgot my camera in my purse!!

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One Response to “Fill-A-Bowl for MANNA”

  1. Mom January 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    Nice pictures of you, baby and Janelle. The soup sounds delicious and the cause a good one too.

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