BARSTOW The Desert Manna homeless shelter and food pantry was recently awarded a $5,000 grant by Bank of America.

The bank solicits grant proposals annually from nonprofits who focus on one of three priorities: housing, workforce development and critical needs, according to the bank's Inland Empire market president, Al Arguello.

Thirteen other Inland Empire nonprofits for critical needs programs received the grants.

"These are issues that are most pressing in our community," Arguello said.

Desert Manna Executive Director Sheri Randolph said the organization has relied heavily on government grants in the past, but she said funding has gone away in the last few years because of the economic downturn and some programs ending.

"We're now making a concerted effort to apply for private foundation and corporation grants to replace that money," Randolph said. "With government grants you never know if they're going to be funded again and at what level. You don't want to rely on only one type of funding."

Randolph said the awarded money will go toward the organization's general operating expenses including supplies, insurance and utilities.

Desert Manna has operated in Barstow since 1988 and currently houses 32 shelter clients along with providing food for about 10 percent of the community through its food pantry programs, according to Randolph.

Contact Brooke Self at (760) 256-4123 or