Manna House activities began informally – handing out bags of food to the poor and needy in the community. Since those early days, the organized expanded to provide a full range of services and to advocate for the homeless/needy in the area.
June 24, 1966-Date of Incorporation as Midtown Churches Community Association, Inc.
1973 — Midtown Churches Community Association, Inc. Soup Kitchen Opens
Manna House’s predecessor organization, Midtown Churches Association, opened a soup kitchen to assist the many community members who were knocking on church doors asking for food. Several churches in the mid-town area who wished to help community’s less fortunate. The original location was in a row house on St. Paul Street. In 1986 the location moved to North and Calvert.
1986 — Soup Plus Advocacy Program Created
A grant from Hands Across America allowed the association to launch a supplemental program called “Soup Plus Advocacy.” Soup Plus Advocacy reached out to agencies city-wide to locate the resources that its clients needed.
1986-1994 — Emergency Church Shelters Opened
In the winter , St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church, and Brown Memorial Church opened the Emergency Shelter Program to provide 175 beds to homeless men, woman, and children. In all, 350,000 bed nights were provided.
1987-2004 — Transitional Housing Program
To carry out a transitional housing program, in 1987, the association rented an apartment house, and then in 1988, purchased a home to house families for 12-18 months. For the durataion of transitional housing program, 36 families received shelter.
1989 — The Soup Kitchen and administrative offices moved to the current location, 435 E. 25th St.
1990-1993 — Extra Care Program
In 1989, a citywide committee working with the Department of Social Services, Visiting Nurses Association, and others, began a motel program to address the lack of shelter for homeless persons being discharged from the hospital. A grant from the State of Maryland allowed the purchase of a nursing home for an Extra Care Program that included: 24-hour staff, meals, and medical personnel. Unfortunately the project was discontinued because the building suffered extensive damage after it became the target for break-ins and vandalism.
1989-1996 — Literacy Programs and Mentoring, Education, Employability Training (MEET)
The Maryland State Department of Education provided funding for to train individuals who wanted to become mentors. A Mentoring Handbook was created, Both the Literacy and MEET programs operated within the shelters and soup kitchen.
1994 — Manna House, Inc. becomes the new name for the Midtown Churches Community Association, Inc.
The new name better reflected the involvement of the community in the organization. In addition, an expanded governing board formed, a diverse group with one central goal of helping the clients.
2000-2005 — Expansion
In 2000, Manna House was gifted the adjacent building for the express purpose of providing additional services to clients. A Drop-In Center was opened for clients following their morning meal. Generous grants from the ABELL Foundation, Northern Community Foundation, Atholton Donor Advised Fund, France-Merrick Foundation, and The Goldsmith Family Foundation funded the expansion to combine the two buildings. The expansion created a larger dining room, clothing room, meeting room, hospitality room, showers for clients, laundry room, elevator and sprinkler system. In April 2005 the work was completed and the additional services began.
2011-2015 — Men’s Health Project
The Manna House Men’s Health Project was a partnership with Baltimore City Health Department, Health Disparities Initiative. It used the “barber shop engagement” approach, because barbershops are uniquely positioned for health outreach to African American men. Community Health Outreach Workers (CHOW) engaged with underserved minority men waiting for services at the barber shops, assessed their health needs, assisted them in obtaining valid identification documents, enrolled them in a health care insurance program as needed, connected them to a health care provider, made needed referrals and provided transportation to and from appointments.
By 2015, Manna House was serving more than 60,000 meal annually. This population is expected to grown. Once again, the Board of Directors has assessed that Manna House has outgrown its home space. Considerable discussion is underway to plan the space for Manna House’s 2nd one-half century.