Thursday morning, dozens of people lined up at Clinchfield United Methodist Church to receive fresh produce, dairy, meats, breads and eggs through MANNA FoodBank’s MANNA Express program.

The delivery of this fresh food will help those in need make sure they can have good and more nutritious meals to eat. This special event was made possible through a $25,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare in August of last year. It is part of UnitedHealthcare’s ongoing effort to identify and support organizations in North Carolina that help seniors, individuals with disabilities and disadvantaged people live healthier lives. MANNA Express has distributed almost 260,000 pounds of food through the just-in-time distribution system since the grant was awarded last year, according to information from both MANNA and UnitedHealthcare.

Representatives from both agencies were there to assist with the food distribution.

“We could not be more appreciative or more proud of our partnership with UnitedHealthcare,” said Mary Nesbitt, chief development officer with MANNA FoodBank, “because what they're making happen for our neighbors in need here in McDowell County, as well as across our 16 counties that we serve, is that we can give them access to fresh healthy nutritionally dense food so that what they're receiving from MANNA actually nourishes them.”

The special delivery was held in conjunction with the church’s weekly Meals that Heal program.

“We also want to lift up Rev. Jim Matthews here at Clinchfield United Methodist Church and all the amazing volunteers that support this pantry every week to make sure that their neighbors have the food that they need,” said Nesbitt.

“I think it is so important for people to realize it is a need all year long and we need to come together to help,” said Corinna Miller, community engagement manager with UnitedHealthcare.

A dietitian was on hand doing a cooking demonstration. She showed how good and delicious foods can be made out of the vegetables like the ones that were given out.

Larry Boyce is one of the volunteers who help out with the weekly Meals that Heal effort. He said he was impressed with the extra large turnout.

“This is the biggest crowd we've ever had here,” he said.

Paul Chavez is both a volunteer and a client with the food distribution at Clinchfield United Methodist.

“Well, first of all it’s a great program and we really, really enjoyed seeing the people coming down to serve all of the underprivileged here in Marion,” he said of Thursday’s distribution.

Chavez said he was going to let more people know about this distribution. He added many residents have to walk to get their food because they have no other way of transportation.

At the end of the day, a total of 2,400 pounds of food were distributed to 114 households. These households represented 423 individuals, according to figures from MANNA.

“With a recent $25,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare, the MANNA Express program is helping up to 300 people per week by distributing 6,000 pounds of nutritious food to those who need it the most,” reads a news release. “According to Feeding America, almost 1.7 million North Carolinians are food insecure. That’s 16.5 percent of people statewide who don’t have reliable access to food, higher than the U.S. average of 13.4 percent.”

And the food distribution was not limited to people either. Paws & Claws Outreach had containers of food for dogs and cats as well. Many needy people have trouble feeding their animal companions too, said Tom Seawright with Paws & Claws.

He added his group also needs donations of pet food.