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Deal In The Works For A New Manna Food Pantry Home

Bob Barrett

Manna Food Pantries and the Escambia County School District are working on a deal to move the non-profit onto the site of an abandoned school. The property is the site of the former J. Lee Pickens School on Hayne Street in Pensacola which has been vacant for 20 years. Dee Dee Flounlacker, the Executive Director of Manna Food Pantries says the deal is just for the land, not the building which was demolished last month.

Manna's current location in Pensacola was heavily damaged in April's floods. That incident was the second time in the last few years that the location had a major flood. Flounlacker is hopeful this new location will solve that problem as it is not in a flood zone.

Manna Food Pantries is the main food bank for the region, feeding over 40 thousand people each year. That service has been discontinued since the flood, but Flounlacker says they are making progress. Construction trailers are being delivered to Manna's current location on Gonzalez Street in Pensacola. Food distribution from that location could be just three weeks away. The non-profit's insurance claim from the flood has still not been settled and any new construction would still require a capital campaign to raise funds from the community.

As for any future location, Flounlacker says that's still a long way off. The Escambia County School Board must approve the sale at their meeting Tuesday, June 24.  If and when the board approves the sale, Manna will begin a 90 day evaluation process. After that, Flounlacker says it's really anyone's guess as to when a new building for the food bank can be built.

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.