One local business is celebrating 40 years in business, and they’re not letting the coronavirus dampen their quest to keep Tuscaloosa happy and healthy.

Manna Grocery couldn’t celebrate with the big party they’d been dreaming of, but co-owner Frances Drennen said that’s fine.

“Forty years passed by in a minute,” Drennen said. “I hope that we can continue to serve the community as long as people need what we have.”

Manna Manager Judson Williams said the 40-year mark is an incredible achievement.

“They’ve had the same mission the whole time, which is to try to keep Tuscaloosa and our community healthy, and I think we’ve done that,” Williams said.

Manna Grocery sprouted after Frances and Earl Drennen bought a natural foods store in 1972. They renamed it Harmony Natural Foods. Back then it was located on the Strip in Tusclaoosa, where Twelve 25 bar is today.

In 1977, they sold the store and moved to Colorado. But three years later they were back in Tuscaloosa. Manna Grocery opened in 1980.

“It’s always been because we feel so strongly about the difference good food makes and how eating that way for your whole life can keep you healthy your whole life,” Drennen said.

When she hires people, she tells them Manna is in the education business selling products on the side because people come in for answers about what they should be eating, or which supplements are best for them, or what makes organic food so important.

Currently when you step inside Manna, some things look a bit different. But employees are still there to help customers live a healthy lifestyle.

But they’re also taking COVID-19 precautions such as closing off their bulk produce bins and instead prepackaging the items for customers.

“We’re encouraging people to stay 6 feet apart,” Williams said. “Any baskets, buggies, anything customers are using we’re sanitizing after every customer. We’ve got sneeze guards up to protect people.”

And even though coronavirus made them postpone their anniversary events, Manna is making sure they keep giving the community healthy products in a helpful environment.

“People have had so many good results with changing their diets or taking supplements or eating in our restaurant,” Drennen said. “They say that when you look back in your life in what was important to you, one of the things is a right livelihood, and that’s how I feel about this. I’m still excited after 40-plus years of coming to work every day to come to work every day.”

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