By Amanda Boston
In the Tampa Bay region, more than 700,000 people are food insecure, which means they are unable to obtain enough food due to limited financial resources. Food insecurity not only afflicts the homeless—countless working families struggle to make ends meet. Sadly, these food insecure households often choose between eating and paying the bills.
Feeding Tampa Bay is a local food bank and an affiliate of Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief organization in the nation. The organization operates similarly to a distributor as it collects, sorts, stores, and supplies food to frontline organizations like local church pantries, soup kitchens, the Boys & Girls Club, and Metropolitan Ministries. It is the backbone and unsung hero of the entire food relief network in Tampa Bay.
According to Jayci Peters, Feeding Tampa Bay’s Director of Marketing and Communications, “Ninety-five percent of the people we serve live in a home. They go to work every day, but they just don’t make enough to meet all their needs and pay bills. Many times, they will have a medical emergency, but anything can cause someone to go into food insecurity,” she explained.
The local food bank’s efforts are predominantly behind-the-scenes. However, Publix Super Market Charities, a longstanding financial supporter of Feeding Tampa Bay, recently, donated refrigerated trailers to serve as mobile pantries. The traveling pantries afford the working-poor greater accessibility to food as they drive into neighborhoods considered high-need. Additionally, the refrigerated trailers offer healthier options, such as fresh produce and meats.
Feeding Tampa Bay is also proud to offer a variety of volunteer opportunities for all ages. For those who wish to volunteer on a regular basis, its warehouse needs individuals to sort food items as well as distribute food with the mobile pantries.
“We have opened up volunteer opportunities for ages much younger than most nonprofits. Once a month, we do a family night. We will have mothers come in to sort food with a baby strapped to them,” continued Peters.
Furthermore, the organization’s funding partners conduct food drives and other special events. During a backpack event, volunteers are needed to fill backpacks with nutritious food for school-age children who reside in households identified as food insecure.
In addition to volunteering, monetary donations are appreciated and accepted. Every one dollar donated equates to ten meals. To make a monetary donation, visit feedingtampabay.org/donate.
Feeding Tampa Bay is located at 4702 Transport Dr., Tampa. It is a 501 (c) (3) Tax Exempt organization. Donations and contributions are tax-deductible. For further details or to volunteer, please visit FeedingTampaBay.org or call 254-1190.