Manna Soup Kitchen was founded in May, 1985. The previous winter, a woman died from starvation in a horse stall at the La Plata County Fairgrounds in Durango, Colorado. Scrawled on the wall beside her were the words, “nobody cares.” This tragedy resulted in a small group of Christians organizing to provide food for the hungry. Meals were initially served in the parking lot of the Spanish Assembly of God Church, but soon moved to the Church kitchen. This became Manna’s first permanent home and meals were served there for the next eight years.
In 1992, Sacred Heart Catholic Church provided their parish hall for meals. In 1995, the first staff person was hired. By 2000, plans began to build a facility capable of serving over 150 people a hot meal out of the elements. The new building opened in 2002 with a modern kitchen, a large dining hall, and laundry and shower facilities available. In 2004, Manna began its own fresh garden.
In 2014, with the creation of Manna’s newly added culinary and administrative building we hosted our first culinary arts program. Since then, we have graduated 21 students with a culinary arts certificate, and have had over a 80% job placement rate.
In 2015 Manna served over 65,000 meals per year including breakfast, a hot lunch, and hot and cold to-go dinners. With its mission statement of feeding the hungry still the top priority, Manna has expanded its services to the homeless and less fortunate in our community.
Manna Training and Resource Building is Now Open!
Solving the immediate problem of hunger is only half of the battle, so in addition to serving wonderful meals seven days a week, Manna is getting to the root cause of hunger by providing a Culinary Job Training program. We are collaborating with SCCC to prepare unemployed, underemployed, and homeless adults for careers in the food service industry. Our first semester will begin this August (watch for the Southwest Colorado Community College class schedule). The curriculum will cover all facets of work in a professional kitchen. It will include Life and Employability skill goals as well as internship opportunities in our community. The Manager of this new facility, or Manna Training and Resource Center, is Joseph Prekup, who available to speak to anyone interested in the program or to answer any questions regarding the program or the building.
Thanks to all of our supporters for making this project a reality!
Manna Soup Kitchen proudly acknowledges 30 years of feeding the hungry in La Plata County. Manna Soup Kitchen honors donors and volunteers whose extraordinary service and support enables us to keep our doors open, lights on and provide nutritious meals to our most fragile residents.The Manna Soup Kitchen is “on the front line” providing for the most immediate needs of individuals and families ranging from infants to WWII veterans. Many of our clients come from the fringe of our community and struggle with drug addiction, alcoholism and mental health issues. Most are unable to afford health insurance and therefore cannot take precautionary health measures. A hot, nutritious breakfast and lunch along with take-home meals and sack lunches may be their core sustenance and the only healthy option on which they can depend.
Watch the video below to see what people have said about the new Culinary Arts Training Program!