Ellis County is buzzing with excitement following an announcement made by Manna House earlier this week. It’s official: Manna House is expanding into Italy, Texas, in 2020.

Italy is among the areas most affected by the food deficit in Ellis County. Despite committed efforts to solve the issue of hunger, the community’s need is simply too extensive to be met by The Italy Food Pantry alone.

The Cornerstone — a 6,000-square-foot building located on Main Street in Italy which once served as a grocery store and, more recently, a youth center for the Central Baptist Church — will soon be home to Manna House’s new location.

“We can. Together.”

The Manna House motto serves as a powerful reminder that when people come together for a common cause, so much can be accomplished.

“It’s more than just a motto. We truly believe it,” said Sissy Franklin, Executive Director of Manna House. “It is our mission ... to end hunger in Ellis County. With the help and support of our community, we can expand our impact to Italy. Together.”

Susan Wooten, administrator for Central Baptist Church and secretary of the Italy Ministerial Alliance, has served as Director of The Italy Food Pantry since 2013.

“We are meeting the need as best as we are able to, but we really can’t go any further. We have hit our limit,” said Wooten. “I am proud of the work that we have done here with the pantry in Italy, but it’s just not going to grow because we don’t have the resources to make it grow.”

“When Susan expressed the challenge facing Italy, we knew we had to step up. There was no question about it,” said Franklin.

Wooten describes the news of Manna House’s expansion to Italy as an answered prayer.

“Manna House is going to be such a positive influence in Italy. Their organization is what I have always wanted the Italy Food Pantry to become. If they do in Italy just half of what they do in Midlothian, they are going to make such an impact on people’s lives down here.”

The expansion

The new location will feature a grocery-style food pantry where community members in need of assistance can browse and select the food items which they need.

“The people they are serving are going to have a much better experience because they’ll be able to go through and select what they really want and need rather than simply taking what we give them and donating back what they don’t use,” said Wooten.

The building will also house Heaven’s Attic, Manna House’s resale boutique. Heaven’s Attic is foundational to the success of Manna House as the shop’s proceeds are a primary source of funding for the organization’s operations and community outreach efforts. As Italy’s only thrift store, Heaven’s Attic will also play an important role in the community.

“Food is a key area of need, and it is a big need to meet, so that is where we have always focused our efforts,” Wooten said. “But the needs are so much more than just food. This is not a high-dollar economic area. While there is wealth spread around, there are many people who are making it day by day. For those that need clothes or furniture, Heaven’s Attic is going to be a godsend for them.”

Manna House will begin renovating The Cornerstone at the start of the new year with hopes of opening doors to the public by mid-year. Until then, Manna House will continue its existing food drops without disruption.

While the Italy location will not initially offer financial assistance, Manna House has revealed plans to extend such services in year two.

About Manna House

Manna House is a community outreach organization founded in 1992 by a forward-thinking group of 8th graders involved in a Problem Solvers project. Seeing a need in the lives of their fellow classmates and the city as a whole, the students developed the idea of a food pantry to provide assistance to the hungry. The students would go on to win an award for their idea. Local pastors and churches also recognized the need and came together to form Manna House.

Over the past 27 years, Manna House has served thousands of individuals and families, providing food, financial assistance, and other essential care to the people of Midlothian and Ellis County.

To learn more about Manna House, visit https://www.mannahousemidlothian.org and
follow @MannaHouseMidlo on Facebook for the latest updates on Manna House’s expansion into Italy.