MANNING, S.C. — A local group in Manning is working to meet food insecurity by providing snack bags to children in need.
“To decrease hunger to increase learning,” Snak-Kit Director Allan Glass shares about the group’s motto. “As you know if you're hungry, that's the thing you want to focus on. It's not whether I'm going to learn my math problem or my, you know, English, but I want food.”
It’s why Glass leads Snak-Kit, in addition to his roles as a local pastor and high school principal. Snak-Kit provides snack bags to students in Manning every weekend.
“All of the schools here are Title I schools so they all receive, the children receive free breakfast, and they receive free lunch,” Glass explains. “But we step in on the weekends, because in that 66-hour timeframe from the time they leave school on Friday to the time they come on Monday, a lot of children are struggling to have food.”
Glass says he took over as director in 2018 when Snak-Kit was packing about 20 bags every month. Now, volunteers like Brandon Glenn pack 591 bags monthly.
“I think over time my favorite part is you see a lot of the same faces that you normally wouldn't interact with through your busy daily life,” Glenn tells me. “And it's a common ground for the community to rally against once a month. And people just enjoy being here and they enjoy seeing each other and, you know, and then they tell their friends.”
“I think it says that our community is willing to come together for a greater good. I love it that the people come out, no one is paid,” Glass adds. “And I think it speaks volumes in the fact that they're willing to give up that time because…in order to meet a need of children that they will never meet, or they may never see, but they're still willing to come out and be a part of it and do that because to them, it's something greater that our community needs.”
The group’s work is funded through community donations and support from Cactus Cares, a nonprofit that’s part of Cactus Feeders, a cattle production company based in Texas with a farm in Manning. It’s run by Wayne Craig, who has helped Snak-Kit grow over the past five years after flying out to see what Snak-Kit was doing back in 2018.
“One of our primary missions is to provide animal protein for the food insecure. We think that protein and food in general is very, very important to those that are in the season, that they may not have access to resources they need. And we think it’s important that they have access to those resources,” Craig, the director of Cactus Cares, details. “Cactus Feeders is a beef and pork production company and many people say. ‘What is a cattle company in Amarillo, TX doing providing food for school kids in Manning, SC, right?’ Well we have employees that live and work there, and these communities are very important. Not only do we want to be a part of those communities in providing jobs and opportunities to provide animal protein in those areas, but we also think it is our responsibility to support those communities to those that cannot have the resources to work through that process as well.”
Craig and Glass are in agreement in trying to help grow the organization in hopes of meeting the community’s need.
“We need volunteers and again, you know funding is a great help,” Glass details. “That really is going to be the only way that we can continue to grow our program and that's just here in Clarendon County, we haven't even we haven't even begun to breach Sumter County yet.”
Currently, the group meets once a month to pack bags. To help with expansion efforts, however, Glass says he’s considering hosting two packing nights in the future.
“We have a great opportunity to bring our community together to be able to help meet this need as well. You know, anytime on any one packing night, we can have 60+ people that are coming out to help us,” Glass shares about the help required. “It's hard to come in and pack 2,500 bags without a large volunteer group that comes in to do that. And I have people that are contacting me, but we can always use more volunteers.”