By Conrad Dudderar
After several decades in downtown Yukon, the Manna Pantry is ready to move this November when a new Canadian County helping ministry opens.
Pantry volunteers are counting down to days when they will occupy a new 2,000-square-foot space in the Together We Center. Construction has started on a building that will house a multi-phase ministry of Yukon’s Trinity Baptist Church, 600 N Cemetery Road south of Interstate 40.
“They’ve started putting up the walls,” Manna Pantry Director Sherri Rogers reported. “The planned opening is the first of November.
“We’re ready for the move. We’re so excited because our new pantry will have almost three times the space. And we’ll be able to open up to all of Canadian County.”
Manna Pantry since 2004 has been housed inside a small dwelling on the northeast corner of Sixth and Maple, a site owned by Yukon’s First Christian Church.
“It has served its purpose,” Rogers said.
Although part of the Together We ministry, the Manna Pantry will retain its name. Volunteers expect to be able to serve many more hungry clients – not just in Yukon, but across Canadian County.
“It will be set up like a grocery store where they can do their own shopping with a ‘personal shopper’, a volunteer who can help them if they need advice on healthy options, how to prepare something or with recipes,” Rogers said. “We will have a warehouse area to stock food, so we won’t have to put everything on the shelves as it comes in the door.
“We’ve had several items donated to us, including a 30-foot walk-in cooler, chairs for the waiting areas and a rolling conveyor to slide boxes down.”
Manna Pantry has been serving Yukon’s hungry since 1975 when it opened a food closet inside Resurrection Lutheran Church.
The pantry later moved to Yukon’s First Christian Church before going to a renovated 800-square-foot house across the street at 123 S Sixth – where it’s been for the past 17 years.
In 2020, Manna Pantry served 3,205 families – 6,638 adults and 3,878 children.
Rogers believes those annual numbers could double with the new, larger location.
This May, the pantry served 277 families and 609 individuals. In June, they helped 221 families and 767 individuals.
Through July 24, Manna Pantry had provided food to 161 families and 517 individuals this month.
The Together We Center will open this fall with the Manna Pantry flanked by a 2,500 square foot medical clinic and 1,000 square foot clothing boutique.
Organizers hope to eventually add free or discounted vehicle repairs and counseling, a barber shop, dental clinic, and other services.
CRUISE-IN FOR A CAUSE
The next big event for Manna Pantry will be Yukon Main Street’s “Cruise-in for a Cause” on Thursday, Sept. 16 in downtown Yukon.
The pantry is among four “help causes” selected to benefit from the third annual car cruise. Participating non-profit groups will have product drives.
“Our tagline is ‘Peanut Butter and Jelly and Mac and Cheese – Donate to the Pantry … Please, Please, Please’,” Manna Pantry Board Member Ramona Ritchie shared.
“We will ask people to bring peanut butter and jelly and mac and cheese to our booth.”
Donations will be collected and a portion of “Park & Show” entry fees will benefit the four causes – Manna Pantry, Yukon Sharing, Compassionate Hands, and Canadian County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates).
The Manna Pantry van and volunteers will be at the 2021 Cruise-in for a Cause to promote the organization.
“We will ask people to bring food and make a donation,” Board Member Vicki McKee added. “Our goal is to try to raise money for our new facility.
“We’re also going to encourage people to volunteer. With a larger facility and more people to serve, we will need more volunteers. We’re running a little short right now.”
Anyone interested should call (405) 265-0193 or visit the Manna Pantry booth during the Sept. 16th car cruise.
Yukon’s Best Main Street and the Yukon 66 Main Street Association have established the third Thursday in September as the recurring date for the Cruise-in for a Cause.
All varieties of street-legal vehicles – from classics to customs to late-models – cruise and park along Yukon’s stretch of Route 66 during the Sept. 16th festivities.
A “Park & Show” area will be along the Fourth and Fifth Street blocks of Main Street.