Julie Ebert and Father John Tapp have worked on the creation of Nativity Food Bank since 2020.

Nativity Catholic Church opened its volunteer-operated food distribution warehouse, Nativity Food Bank, at the beginning of the summer to serve families from Hillsborough County in need. The Dover location was blessed by Bishop Robert Lynch on June 6, but volunteers had already begun serving local organizations due to the increased need in the community.

“We’ve almost doubled the size of our warehouse and we’re going to be able to provide food for the food pantries for over 50 churches,” said warehouse manager Julie Ebert.

The new food bank is 11,100 square feet with 588 square feet dedicated to commercial refrigeration. The warehouse contains the boxes of food donated by suppliers such as Publix, Costco and Sprouts and has sorting rooms for perishable and nonperishable goods.

The new Dover location will serve as a distribution center to 50 local food pantries, ministries and nonprofit organizations that dedicate their time and resources to helping those in need. Every week, each ministry will receive around 150 boxes of food to distribute to families in need. Ebert and her team hope to donate 4 million pounds of food this year.

It was funded by a ministry called Courageously Living the Gospel, led by Bishop Gregory Parkes, and eight parishes that have donated monetary support to the new food bank. Nativity Catholic School students also donated their time and talents by singing at the dedication and painting a mural outside the office rooms at the warehouse.

“It’s just great to see a ministry that now has a future to it. … It warms my heart to know that we are doing God’s work,” said Pastor John Tapp. “This isn’t just a volunteer thing. This is a passion that they are following, and they’re totally dedicated to it.”

Pastor Tapp, who will be leaving Nativity this summer, oversaw the construction and formation of the new warehouse since it began in December of 2020. He is grateful to be able to see the opening of the food bank almost two years later.

Nativity Food Bank is located at 3110 San Diego Ln. in Dover and is open Monday through Wednesday and on Friday from 7-11:30 a.m. For more information on the Nativity Catholic Church food bank, visit nativityfoodbank.org.

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Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.