The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting many people hard, including when it comes to putting food on the table. Hillsborough County residents have several sources that can offer help with this basic need. Here are some examples:
Food Assistance For Seniors
Hillsborough County residents ages 60 and older can apply for food assistance through Hillsborough County Aging Services. There is no income requirement to participate in the federally-funded program. For more information on receiving meals and to apply, call 272-5250.
Feeding Tampa Bay: Mobile Food Pantry And More
Feeding Tampa Bay is offering drive-thru distribution of free, pre-packaged groceries to Hillsborough County residents in need. Distribution is on Saturdays from 9 to 11 a.m. at Hillsborough Community College’s Dale Mabry campus, located on 4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd. in Tampa. Check the Feeding Tampa Bay website before the events in case of change and to find similar events elsewhere. Feeding Tampa Bay also offers several other food assistance programs and information, including Breakspot Meal Sites for children, Senior Groceries, Trinity Café and more. For details, go to feedingtampabay.org, or call 254-1190.
Tampa YMCA Veggie Van
The unique and colorful ‘Veggie Van’ is distributing free pre-packaged bags of produce in several neighborhoods in Hillsborough County. No ID, paperwork or prescreening is required to receive the food. Learn more on the Veggie Van’s Facebook page, @tampaveggievan.
Hillsborough County Public Schools continues to distribute Grab-and-Go food bags to students at 147 sites every Wednesday. Families will be able to pick up a week’s worth of nutritious meals at a time. Buses also are transporting food into specific neighborhoods for pickup every Wednesday. A special snack pack will also be available at pickup sites on Mondays starting on April 20. Go to sdhc.k12.fl.us or call 272-4000 for details.
Florida Food Assistance Program
The Florida Department of Children and Families provides food benefits, access to a healthy diet and education on food preparation and nutrition to low-income households through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The program requirements have been adjusted to assist additional residents who have recently lost their jobs or experienced a significant reduction in the number of hours they are able to work due to COVID-19. Apply online at myflorida.com/accessflorida/ or call 866-762-2237.
Stretch Your SNAP Benefits
Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) is a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded program that encourages recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to shop at local farmers markets, produce stands, community-supported agriculture and mobile markets. FAB provides double benefits for every SNAP dollar spent at an approved farmers market. There are two participating FAB locations in Hillsborough County: Temple Terrace Farmer’s Market at 11780 Tom Folsom Rd. in Thonotosassa and Sweetwater Organic Community Farm and Market at 6942 W. Comanche Ave. in Tampa. For more information, visit feedingflorida.org/food-access/fresh-access-bucks.
SNAP And EBT Cards
Beginning on Tuesday, April 21, SNAP recipients across the state will be able to use EBT cards to make eligible food purchases from Walmart and Amazon online. This partnership with federal, state and local partners will ensure Floridians can access nutritious food while also practicing social distancing and self-quarantining to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The Florida Department of Children and Families will continue to work to expand the network of retailers participating in the pilot program. For more information, go to myflfamilies.com/covid19/access.shtml.
For links to additional resources that can help you navigate these difficult times, click on the ‘Getting Help’ tab at HCFLGov.net/StaySafe. Check the page often for updates.
Get Connected. Stay Alert.
For more information on COVID-19, and any other potential emergency in the county, visit HCFLGov.net/StaySafe and sign up for the HCFL Alert system. Additionally, you can follow Hillsborough County on social media at Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor for updates. For general county information, call 272-5900, the county’s main information line.