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A community effort as Grocery Outlet sets $8,000 goal for Manna House

Sutsie Ludwig, 3, and her brother Thatcher, 5, with two pre-made grocery bags at the Oakhurst Grocery Outlet Bargain Market. An “Independence From Hunger,” food drive is underway at the market to raise $8,000 in non-perishable food and cash for Manna House by the end of July. Sutsie and Thatcher are the children of Aaron and Melinda Ludwig of Wawona, and were shopping Thursday with their grandmother, Marge Ludwig.
Sutsie Ludwig, 3, and her brother Thatcher, 5, with two pre-made grocery bags at the Oakhurst Grocery Outlet Bargain Market. An “Independence From Hunger,” food drive is underway at the market to raise $8,000 in non-perishable food and cash for Manna House by the end of July. Sutsie and Thatcher are the children of Aaron and Melinda Ludwig of Wawona, and were shopping Thursday with their grandmother, Marge Ludwig. Sierra Star

The Grocery Outlet Bargain Market in Oakhurst is holding a food drive for Manna House through the end of July, with the goal of raising $8,000 in cash and non-perishable food.

This is the fourth year Brandon and Jessica Steele, owners of the market, have participated in “Independence From Hunger,” a national campaign by Grocery Outlet with a company goal of raising $1 million across the country. Food purchased and cash donated at the Oakhurst store goes to Manna House, the non-denominational program that assists those in need in the Mountain Area.

Most food banks across the country receive many generous donations during the holiday season, but experience dramatic drops in donations during the summer months.

“We have signs throughout the entire store asking for the community’s help to create an independence from hunger,” Jessica said. “It has been a top priority of ours since we opened to help in any way we can, and we feel that this is going towards a great cause.”

Pre-made bags of groceries at the check stands, between $5 and $10, make it very convenient for shoppers to donate to the cause by just putting one of the bags in their cart at checkout. Gift cards can also be purchased for $5 that go directly to Manna House. Anyone purchasing a pre-made bag or making a $5 cash donation will receive a coupon good for $5 off a minimum $25 purchase at the market between July 15 and 31.

Manna House Director Tom Nicolulis said from the moment the Steeles moved to town they have been huge year-round contributors to Manna House.

“The ‘Independence From Hunger’ food drive really helps as non-perishable food is desperately needed during a time when donations are slow,” Nicolulis said. “The market’s year-long effort is greatly appreciated by offering some comfort to those in need, which is what Manna House does. I encourage the community to participate in this food drive during July to help offset the $4,000 Manna House pays each month for non-perishable items.”

Bruce Bartlett, Manna House food manager, said the food drive comes at the perfect time of year.

“The community is very supportive of Manna House, especially during major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this time of year we are running pretty low on supplies,” Bartlett said. “Thanks to Grocery Outlet and its customers, this food drive will once again fill the shelves at Manna House so we can help those in need in the Mountain Area.”

“We are just so happy to be part of a community that wants to help others, and Manna House is one of the best at doing just that,” said Brandon. “This is a great opportunity for Mountain Area residents to come together and help neighbors in need. With the community’s help, we are confident we can make our goal of $8,000 in groceries and cash for Manna House.”

As of July 11, the community has contributed $2,300; $1,750 in cash and 86 bags of groceries valued at $550.

In the company’s first food drive in 2011, about 150 Grocery Outlet stores across the country, thanks to the generosity of customers, donated more than $223,000 in food, cash, and gift cards to help food assistance agencies across the country. In 2012, donations increased to $292,000 and 2013 donations topped $300,000. Last year’s efforts, with more than 200 markets across the country, hit the $1 million mark.

Manna House is a nonprofit corporation, funded 100% by donations, and is affiliated with the Mountain Ministerial Association.

Details: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, 7 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. daily, 40301 Junction Drive, (559) 683-2400. Manna House, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Monday - Friday, 40390 Junction Drive, (559) 683-6262.

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