In 2004, Kenny York was a missionary in Nashville, TN who utilized his love for cooking by overseeing a weekly meal for the homeless and poor. In 2007, he scrawled the plan for Manna Café Ministries in a notebook. In 2008, he took the first steps toward launching Manna Café by taking donated bread and sweets—and soon after, hot meals—into a local homeless camp, along with friend Vicki, who is now his wife.
Manna Café was chartered as a non-profit in February 2009; fifteen months later, the Yorks relocated to Clarksville, TN, after area leaders expressed the need for such an organization. Three days later, the Flood of 2010 hit, and Kenny launched full speed into disaster relief via food distribution. A few days later, Manna Café served its first mobile, outdoor hot meal to 35 guests.
Since then, Manna Café has grown exponentially. One meal per week has become four, with peak attendance at 200+ people at a single meal. The Food Box Distribution Program (much like a large food pantry) grew from 200 food boxes in May 2010 to more than 25,000 boxes in 2014. In a single year, Manna Café distributes 1.8 million pounds of food to local families.
Food insecurity in Montgomery County involves more than 15% of the population (about 28,000 people). The percentage for children is 21.5%, a third of whom are not income-eligible for federal programs such as free school lunches. For this reason, our goal is to first meeting people’s basic need for food, and then guide them toward positive, permanent change.