Feeding Tampa Bay donates boxes of fresh produce and other groceries to local food pantries to support the community.

As nationwide inflation continues to impact families, a larger population is facing food insecurity. The increase in living expenses has made it difficult for families to manage their budgets and find the financial resources to put an adequate amount of nutritious food on the table. Feeding Tampa Bay works with around 450 food pantries, churches and ministries that provide food to those in the community facing food insecurity.

President and CEO Thomas Mantz explained the importance of food pantries, saying, “You should be able to get [free food] pretty hassle-free because, again, no one should be without food resources.”

Food pantries that Feeding Tampa Bay works with include:

• Bread of Refuge on Wilbur Street in Brandon. Bread of Refuge serves hot meals from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday and boxes of food daily from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

• Mission of Hope, which serves food to widows and those with disabilities on Monday from 10 a.m.-12 Noon on Dorman Road in Lithia. Boxes of food or clothing are provided to all in need on the second and fourth Fridays of the month at 5 p.m.

• Community Cupboard, which is located in Ruskin off East College Avenue and open every Tuesday from 8:30-11 a.m. In order to receive groceries, individuals must bring an ID and proof of residence in Ruskin, Apollo Beach, Gibsonton, Balm, Parish, Sun City Center or Wimauma.

• Riverview First United Methodist Church, located off Highway 301 South. They serve food on Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m.-12 Noon. Those visiting the food pantry should bring their IDs and expect to receive fresh produce, canned goods and other groceries.

• Seeds of Hope, which is located off East Bloomingdale Avenue in Brandon and provides food to families every Thursday from 5-7 p.m. In addition to weekly boxes of food, Seeds of Hope provides food to students that qualify for free lunches on the weekends through its Backpacks of Hope program.

• The Nativity Food Pantry, open on Thursdays from 1-2 p.m. off East Brandon Boulevard in the social hall. Valrico and Brandon residents can stop by the social hall, located between the church and school, to pick up the boxes of groceries.

• Tampa Bay Mission of Hope Food Pantry, open to all families and individuals on Saturday at 12 Noon off St. Cloud Avenue in Valrico. CEO Dr. Reba Haley said the food pantry emphasizes sustainability and nutrition in their distribution of canned goods, bread, fresh fruit and vegetables from its community garden.

While you may not be the one in need of food, you likely know someone who does. Each pantry is in need of monetary and resource donations, including food and volunteer support. Contact the pantry closest to you to find out how you can help the community.

If you are facing food insecurity, visit feedingtampabay.org/findfood to locate the food pantry closest to you and learn more about how to receive free groceries every week.

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Lily Belcher is a writer for The Osprey Observer and Christian Voice Monthly. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey since completing her internship. Lily plans to attend the University of South Florida and major in Communications while writing for The Oracle.