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Agency Which Helps Feed Thousands In Need In Conejo Valley Getting New Home

Manna serves thousands of people a need through this small, 200 square foot store in the Conejo Valley. It's in the process of getting a new home which will allow it to better provide services to those in need.

John Robb and his wife, Shannon, are bringing a shopping cart full of food, and personal hygiene items to a home in Thousand Oaks. They don’t live here. In fact, no one lives here.

This house on the 2000 block of Crescent Way is home to Manna, a food bank which help thousands of people in need a year in the Conejo Valley. The four decade old non-profit helps some 18,000 people a year through this tiny house.

At the heart of it is a room which looks like a little store, with shelves lined with all kinds of food.

Jennifer Schwabauer, who is Manna’s Executive Director, says they help many people who are the working poor.  They have jobs, but they are low paying, so after rent, they have a hard time making ends meet.

One of the fastest growing segments of those in need is senior citizens, people who are retired but struggling to make ends meet on fixed incomes.

Manna has a tiny paid staff, but an army of volunteers to help keep the shelves stocked, and to pick up donations from schools, churches, and local supermarkets. Taylor Pascal, Manna’s Community Outreach Coordinator, says they need thing like eggs and canned foods.

While Manna is in the business of helping people, it’s getting some help of its own this year. Its current home is so small there are some giant moving bods in its drive to help store supplies. The good news after years of saving, and scouting, Manna has closed escrow on what will be its new home. It’s a church complex at 95 Oakview Drive in Thousand Oaks, about a mile from its current home. It’s more than 3,000 square feet, which is more than four times the size of the house it current calls home. The church has overgrown its facility, so once it moves to its new home, Manna will also be able to move.

Manna is hoping to get some Christmas presents to help with its new home. It’s raised enough to buy the property which will be its new home, but needs to raise the final $1.6 million dollars in its capital campaign for the project.

While Manna’s leaders are thinking long term, they are busy working on the current need. This week, a stream of community volunteers is showing up with food, and other supplies to help feed those in need now.

Shannon Robb, who brings food regularly to Manna, says she knows firsthand about being in need. Robb says when she was a child her family was struggling, and received help to get by.

Manna officials say they are actually doing well on food donations for this time of year. They say because it’s the holidays, people think about giving, and do food drives to help. They hope people will think about Manna during summertime, when donations are the lowest, and with kids out of school and off of school lunch programs, the demand for help is the highest.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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