Instacart and State Representative Donna Bullock Partner with MANNA to host December Pie Drive Benefitting Philadelphia Area Community Organizations  

MANNA pies were distributed during the December holiday season to more than 15 community organizations throughout Philadelphia 

Fuel Back to School

As a new school year approaches, this preparative stretch of time offers the perfect opportunity to upgrade household routines surrounding how food is chosen, prepared, and enjoyed by the whole family. While the little ones get ready to head out the door with backpacks, notebooks, and pencils, ensure they are equally well equipped with nourishing food to take on each day.

Consider the Food Groups
Protein – Animal products like chicken, turkey, fish, and eggs offer lean and complete protein to keep bodies strong and growing. Equally helpful are plant proteins, including beans, nuts, nut butters, lentils, and tofu, which can offer more variety and speedy snack preparation.

Fruits – Handheld fruits like bananas, apples, and oranges can be sent off in a lunchbox just as they are, while berries or cut-up watermelon do well in a baggie or small Tupperware container. To dodge unneeded sugar, look for fruit cups packaged in 100% juice or water and applesauce with no sugar added.

Vegetables – Baby carrots, cut celery, or sliced cucumbers with a favorite dip or dressing make for a sustaining snack at home. A colorful dinner plate can also make a meal more interesting, so trying a variety of veggies can increase engagement at the dinner table. Consider including bell peppers, sweet potatoes, beets, or eggplant among the greens.

Dairy – Milk, yogurt, and cheese offer calcium for strong bones. For lactose intolerance or those who generally dislike dairy, consider non-dairy alternatives that are fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Dairy and dairy alternatives are often wholesome sources of protein as well!

Grains – Look for bread, cereal, and grain products with 100% whole wheat/whole grain on their labeling. It is recommended to make at least ½ of the grains eaten each day whole grains. This increases fiber intake, which in turn, promotes steady fullness for better energy and focus. Oats, brown rice, and quinoa are some grain choices that are 100% whole grains just as they are!

Guide Balanced Eating
Combining foods from different food groups above creates something filling and provides more necessary nutrients with each passing meal and snack!
Some examples:

  • Apple slices with peanut butter
  • Oatmeal or yogurt with berries
  • Toast with a hardboiled egg
  • Grilled cheese with a side of sliced bell peppers
  • Whole grain crackers with salsa, hummus, or guacamole

Get the Facts
The nutrition facts label provides a wealth of information about every product in the grocery store. There is nothing wrong with picking up pre-packaged snack items, though it is worth trying to do so mindfully. When in doubt, check the label! Keeping conscious of added sugar, saturated fat, and high sodium in products will ensure these convenient choices fit comfortably into a balanced intake.

Grow Together
So much planning and preparation can go into getting food from the grocery store to the lunchbox or the dinner table; What steps of the process can include the whole family?
If you are able:

  • Take the kids to the grocery store. Explore the produce section together and pick out something new!
  •  Request some extra hands in the kitchen. Smaller hands may enjoy washing, measuring, mixing, or plating ingredients.
  • Set aside time to prep lunches ahead once per week. Discuss favorite foods and what portions of them are filling.

Remember that meals and snacks don’t have to be perfect! Every day can be a new opportunity to make thoughtful food choices, whether you are catching the bus on the first day of school or writing your 100th lunchbox note.

2023 Main Course Chefs: Highlighting Anthony Bonett of Moshulu & Mike Stellaccio of MANNA

We’re officially 6 weeks out from MANNA’s Main Course presented by Steve Korman & Linda Richardson Korman on Thursday, September 21st from 6:00pm – 10:00pm at Vie by Cescaphe! This week, we’re highlighting two more incredible chef’s whose dishes will be available to sample at the event. Read on to learn more about Anthony Bonett, Executive Chef at Moshulu, and MANNA’s own Mike Stellaccio!

Interview with Anthony Bonett, Executive Chef of Moshulu

Q. Tell us about Moshulu
A. Moshulu is one of Philly’s Most iconic restaurants; It is the world’s oldest and largest square rigged sailing vessel still afloat and the only restaurant venue on a Tall Ship today in the Word. It’s many people’s favorite restaurant in the city. We specialize in decadent and high-end cuisine that’s reinvented with a modern and approachable twist. It’s a restaurant that feels like a big family of guests and staff!

Q. What do you believe is the best bite in Philly?
A. I love Chinese food, so anything in Chinatown – specifically Peking Duck!

Q. What food automatically makes you feel better or puts you in a good mood?
A. As a chef, I love homestyle cooking and things that remind me of childhood. So anything that features chicken cutlets, polenta, or pasta dishes automatically puts me in a good mood.

Q. What drew you to MANNA as an organization to get involved with?
A. I was drawn to MANNA because it’s an organization that’s doing a lot of good in the Philly area, and has been doing so for many years. MANNA continues to stay involved in the chef community and I really appreciate that they bridge the gap between charitable organizations and the chef industry.

Q. What (or who) is your favorite part of MANNA?
A. My favorite part is the outreach that MANNA does!

Q. How long have you been involved with MANNA?
A. I’ve been cooking in Philly for 30 years, so I ‘ve known MANNA for as long as I’ve been cooking here!

Q. What role do you believe that food plays in the community?
A. Food and the food industry in general is very important in many lives. Not just as a place to eat or as part of the community, but it’s also a place where many people work for their first jobs. It’s a great example of hands-on business where you can learn a lot of skills and take them with you wherever you go. It’s admirable how MANNA has made that part of their profile – to stay in touch with the food industry and bridge that gap. I believe food is good for eating, working, and gathering. Food is the soul of the community – from very large places to small places, the vision behind it is all the same.

Q. What type of food will you be serving? Anything special for the event? (okay if you do not have your dish finalized yet!)
A. I will be serving a Thai noodle salad with a very authentic pad Thai sauce vinaigrette, elevating it by pairing it with rock shrimp, shitake mushrooms, herbs and more!

Q. Why should people attend the Main Course?
A. It’s a great way to attend an awesome event, have fun, and give back to an awesome charity!

Q. Out of all the other participating chefs, whose food/dishes are you most excited to try?
A. Chad Williams of Friday Saturday Sunday!

Q. What are you most looking forward to at this year’s event?
A. I’m looking forward to executing well, representing well, meeting new people and really getting involved in the community!

Interview with Mike Stellaccio, Kitchen Manager of MANNA


Q. Tell us about MANNA
A. Our kitchen staff consist of 4 full time chefs, the amount of quality food we put out on a weekly basis is unbelievable. We are currently producing over 20,000 meals a week for our clients with the help of hundreds of volunteers- which is incredible! I’m very grateful to have the team that I have! If I had to choose a favorite MANNA meal, I would pick Chicken Cacciatore!

Q. What do you believe is the best bite in Philly?
A. The octopus nachos at LMNO are fire and the OG fried chicken sandwich from Love & Honey is a classic!

Q. What food automatically makes you feel better or puts you in a good mood?
A. I love lighting up the charcoals and getting ready to smoke some barbeque. My favorite things to throw on the barbeque are ribs & brisket, that’s therapy to me!

Q. What drew you to MANNA as an organization to get involved with?
A. I was looking for a career change in life, and when I saw what MANNA does for their clients it made me excited to work here. Because of our mission, I’m happy to get up and go to work every day.
Q. What (or who) is your favorite part of MANNA?
A. The people who work here, my relationships with my coworkers & the comradery make it fun to come to work.

Q. How long have you been involved with MANNA?
A. I’ve worked at MANNA for almost 2 years, September 21st 2023 isn’t only MANNA’s Main Course, but it’s my 2 year anniversary too!

Q. Has MANNA helped you or your loved ones in any way?
A. MANNA hasn’t directly impacted my loved ones, however I’m glad that we can help so many people daily.

Q. What role do you believe that food plays in the community?
A. Food is essential, and it’s a common item that brings everybody together regardless of your background. I truly believe what food you eat daily; impacts how you feel both physically & mentally. The fact that we are able to provide nourishing meals to our clients, helps in many ways.

Q. What type of food will you be serving? Anything special for the event? (okay if you do not have your dish finalized yet!)
A. Not sure yet, but we’re excited to brainstorm.

Q. Why should people attend the Main Course?
A. Main Course is such a fun night where you get to celebrate Philly, the amazing chefs, and most importantly what MANNA does! We get to showcase it all in one evening.

Q. Out of all the other participating chefs, whose food/dishes are you most excited to try?
A. I’m excited for all of them, but can’t wait to try what Amanda Shulman & Alex Kemp of My Loup bring to the table.

Interested in trying Chef Anthony Bonett’s and Chef Mike’s incredible dishes for yourself? Purchase a ticket for MANNA’s 2023 Main Course event, where you can sample dozens of unique dishes prepared by some of Philadelphia’s finest chefs and culinary talent. We hope to see you there!

Tickets and sponsorship packages are available at mannapa.org/maincourse23.

2023 Main Course Chefs: Highlighting Chef Dionicio Jimenez of Cantina La Martina

As the countdown to MANNA’s 2023 Main Course event continues, we’re highlighting some of the incredible chef’s who will be preparing appetizers, dinner and dessert for the evening on Thursday, September 21st.

This week, MANNA’s Events team traveled to the Kensington neighborhood to visit Chef Dionicio Jimenez, Owner and Executive Chef of Cantina La Martina and 2023 James Beard Award Nominee

Sitting brightly on the corner of D Street and Kensington Avenue beneath the Market-Frankford Somerset Station, Cantina La Martina was opened by Chef Dio in late February of 2022. He first began working in restaurants at the age of 14 in his hometown of San Mateo Ozolco, Calpan Puebla, Mexico. After emigrating to the United States in 1998, Chef Dionicio eventually settled in Philadelphia where he worked his way up in the restaurant industry from dishwasher, line cook, prep cook, chef, and then finally, to Executive Chef. 

With more than 30-years of culinary experience, Chef Dio shares his Mexican heritage and culture with the Philly community through the meals he creates – fusing together new flavors and cuisines and keeping his family traditions alive with every dish. We experienced just that when we sat down for dinner at Cantina La Martina to sample Chef Dio’s creations ahead of MANNA’s 2023 Main Course Event. 

We started the evening with a passion fruit margarita and mango agua fresca (both of which were incredibly refreshing) followed by The Guacamole Trio, The Salsa Trio, and the Peruvian Ceviche Mixto for appetizers. The guac trio includes three separate guacamoles prepared with Crabmeat, Goat cheese & pistachio, and Habanero mango with grasshoppers! It’s the perfect appetizer choice for larger dinner groups or for people who want to try it all. The ceviche mixto includes white fish, tuna, crabmeat, octopus, choclo, sweet potato and Peruvian aji amarillo.

For the main course, we opted for Chef Dio’s famous Pastor Negro Tacos (black marinade pork, onion, cilantro salsa verde), and the Trufa ravioli  (Black truffle, huitlacoche, cotija cheese, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and creamy truffle sauce) – a true blend of culinary fusion! On the side, we delighted in an order of Esquites (Corn, queso fresco, mayo and tajin), and Platanos Oazaueños (Roasted plantain, mole negro, queso and crema) which perfectly complimented the flavors of the main dishes.

And of course, what’s a dinner without dessert? We ended the evening with the most delectable order of freshly fried churros, tossed in cinnamon sugar and dipped in a rich, rum chocolate ganache with raspberry coolie!

If you’d like to try some of Chef Dionicio Jimenez’s incredible dishes for yourself, stop by Cantina La Martina Monday through Sunday during their posted restaurant hours, OR purchase a ticket for MANNA’s 2023 Main Course event where you can sample unique dishes prepared by Chef Dio and 15 of Philadelphia’s finest chefs and culinary talent. We hope to see you there!