By Tamas Mondovics
TAs the largest “mobile pantry” event of the year, the holidays arrived at Gibsonton Elementary School last month in a new 53-ft. refrigerated trailer provided by a $125,000 grant to Feeding America Tampa Bay from The Mosaic Company Foundation.
The new trailer, the second for Feeding America Tampa Bay, pulled up into the driveway of Gibsonton Elementary School loaded with 650 individually bagged holiday groceries.
“We were amazed by this,” said Gibsonton Elementary School Principal Donna Marra. “Mosaic went above and beyond in its support of Feeding America Tampa Bay and, in turn, the families of our community. It truly shows how wonderful the community support really is.”
As the students were leaving for their winter break, each family received a bag filled with all the makings of a holiday dinner, including a ham, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, stuffing and gravy.
“With more than 90 percent of our students participating in the Free and Reduced Lunch program, we appreciate that Mosaic and Feeding America Tampa Bay helped brighten their meals this holiday season,” Marra said. “While all of our students have an opportunity to receive a free breakfast, many still have a need for additional food.”
A dozen Mosaic employees alongside the Feeding America Tampa Bay team, led by Mosaic representative and Feeding America Foundation chair Christine Smith, as well as Feeding America Tampa Bay Executive Director, Thomas Mantz, were both on hand to distribute the meals.
Smith explained that Mosaic and Gibsonton Elementary School have been educational business partners for more than 20 years, making the distribution of the holiday dinners, through the school in the Gibsonton community a natural fit.
“Last July, Feeding America Tampa Bay was the recipient of The Mosaic Company Foundation grant, which funded the purchase of the new refrigerated trailer,” Smith said.
Specially equipped with a lift-gate, the trailer’s 24-pallet capacity can transport 42,500 pounds of food at a time and will be used to pick up produce and other food from area growers, packing houses, and retailers as well as to operate Feeding America Tampa Bay’s large-scale Mobile Pantry distributions in rural communities.
Mantz emphasized that getting the food around has always been the organization’s biggest challenge, but that Mosaic’s recent generous support has greatly improved statistics of food distribution.
“The Mosaic Company Foundation’s generous gift of this trailer increases the food bank’s transportation capacity by 20 percent,” Mantz said. “It will materially change our ability to provide high-volume food assistance to thousands of area families struggling with hunger.”
Mosaic is committed to investing at least 1 percent of its profits to charitable causes. Over the past year, Mosaic and The Mosaic Company Foundation have donated more than $8.4 million to local community organizations focused on benefiting its members.
“With this donation, Mosaic is further reinforcing its commitment to support hunger relief for local families,” said Gary N. “Bo” Davis, senior vice president of Phosphate Operations at The Mosaic Company and board member of The Mosaic Company Foundation. “We are proud of our partnership with Feeding America Tampa Bay and the work they are doing to close the food gap in our communities during this holiday season and throughout the year.”
The students at Gibsonton Elementary were clearly pleased with their gift bags, which for some, such as 6-year-old Tristan Perkins, were almost too big to carry.
“I can’t wait to get home and taste everything in my bag,” Perkins said.
Founded in 1982, Feeding America Tampa Bay supplied more than 35 million pounds of food to its 10-county service area in the past year. Visit feedingamericatampabay.org or www.mosaicco.com.