By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Yukon’s emergency food cupboard will officially celebrate its 45th anniversary – finally.
A “drive-through” celebration is set 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10 at the Manna Pantry, 123 S Sixth. People are encouraged to bring food and monetary donations while enjoying cupcakes.
Anyone who attends the anniversary fête will be able to receive food boxes provided by the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
Manna Pantry was preparing to commemorate its 45th anniversary feeding the hungry in March when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted mass shutdowns and business cutbacks.
“We’re excited to be able to celebrate 45 years serving our community on October 10,” Manna Pantry Director Sherri Rogers said. “This has been a challenging year and we’ve really seen the need increase with more people out of work.”
Even after an expansion, Yukon’s food cupboard has outgrown its current home and is looking for a larger building.
“We served 247 families last month, and that included 52 new families,” said Rogers, who’s been Manna Pantry’s director since October 2019. “We pretty much use every inch of space and need a much larger place.”
Manna Pantry began in 1975 inside a closet in the front hall of Resurrection Lutheran Church, 675 W Vandament.
The pantry was stocked with food donations from church members, local stores and the Salvation Army.
Hungry residents knew they could call or come by when the church was open to receive free food when they needed it.
Within two years, Manna Pantry had outgrown the space at Resurrection Lutheran Church and moved to Yukon’s First Christian Church at 601 Maple.
About 20 years ago, volunteers remodeled a First Christian Church-owned house to serve as Manna Pantry’s “new” home.
That approximate 1,000 square foot structure, on the northeast corner of Sixth and Maple, remains Manna Pantry’s headquarters.
SERVING THE HUNGRY
Recipients can come twice each month to receive food from the Manna Pantry. Nobody is turned away if they’re hungry.
“We are open every day of the week except Saturday, and twice on Wednesday,” Rogers said.
Manna Pantry now has some 200 volunteers and relies heavily on donations from the Regional Food Bank, church and civic groups and individuals.
Among the greatest sources of food items are Yukon-area grocery stores and restaurants.
“We have 28 retail pickups a week,” Rogers said.
As the need for its services started growing, Manna Pantry was not able this spring to benefit from its largest annual food collection – the Letter Carriers Food Drive – due to COVID.
The pantry had set a goal to collect 30,000 pounds of food at that May event, which was canceled.
The pandemic also forced Manna Pantry to postpone its annual volunteer appreciation banquet, which will be moved to this winter.
Learn more by calling 265-0193 or visiting www.mannapantryyukon.org