Pictured are volunteers from last year’s Feed the Bay event at the Publix in FishHawk.

In just one day, Feed the Bay helps replenish food pantries across the Tampa Bay area. What began as an outreach at Bay Life Church in 2006 now includes multiple churches from various denominations and hundreds of volunteers.

The annual outreach returns this year on Sunday, March 15 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Since its existence, the community outreach has collected nearly two million pounds of food for local pantries and community agencies.

Feed the Bay partners with Publix Super Markets, which provide shoppers with a list of requested food items. After the shoppers purchase the food, volunteers are on-site to collect the food items and load them onto trailers. Then, truck drivers deliver the items to the different agencies, where other volunteers are onsite to unload.

Since day one, Eleanor Saunders has been a part of Feed the Bay as a volunteer from Bay Life and an employee of the Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO). In 2006, ECHO was the first recipient agency of Feed the Bay.

Saunders said, “It is incredible to give as a church member and humbling to receive as an agency.”

She continued, “Feed the Bay is a testimony to the power of the church venturing out of denominational lines and truly working together toward one common cause. It is an opportunity to bring a large group of volunteers together, exposing them to the mission of ECHO.”

Last year, Feed the Bay collected 109,923 pounds of food from 14 Publix locations and $4,600 in gift cards. The collaborative effort included 29 church campuses and 12 community agencies, totaling 626 volunteers.

Volunteers must be 14 years old, but children are welcome to participate alongside a parent. To volunteer or see a list of participating Publix Super Markets, churches and agencies, visit www.feedthebay.org.

If you are unable to participate during the event but still want to contribute, gift cards from any supermarket may be dropped off at the Bay Life Church office on 1017 Kingsway Rd. in Brandon. For questions, contact Melanie Langston at mlangston@baylife.org.