ASHEVILLE – As many people indulged Thursday, several of the area's less fortunate feasted on food that would have otherwise been wasted. Thanks to an elaborate network of food pantries, industrial farmers, mega distributors and local groceries all brought together by MANNA Food Bank, thousands of meals that would have unnecessarily ended up in landfills instead were served up on people's holiday tables. "It's really pretty amazing," said Cindy Threlkeld, executive director of MANNA Food Bank. "It's more complex than it looks on the surface."
In 2013, MANNA, which operates on the basic premise that the people of Western North Carolina should be able to live without the barrier of hunger, distributed 12.8 million pounds of food to pantries throughout the region. It's like giving out 1,100 meals every hour of every day, the nonprofit estimates. Much of the food ends up at MANNA by mistake, unwanted by consumers or considered unmarketable by industry giants. Yet, with increased need and limited resources, area charities argue these blunders are lifesavers, providing people with much needed sustenance and comfort.
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