Director of Our Lady’s Pantry Tom Bullaro and his wife, Anita, work both at the pantry and behind the scenes to serve the hundreds of men, women and children who come for food. (Photo courtesy of Our Lady’s Pantry.)

Fighting hunger is a community-wide passion in the SouthShore area of Hillsborough County, said Tom Bullaro. Bullaro, who is the director of Our Lady’s Pantry with his wife, Anita, said that the pantry is like a hub of sorts with food coming and going to and from many sources.

“People know we are here,” he said. “It’s not unusual for various clubs and neighborhoods to take up a collection and bring surplus food to us. Just today, in fact, we received a trunk full of food from Florida Acecapaders, a 55-plus mobile community in Lithia.”

“We are just passing it forward,” said Gloria Welch and Kathy Ferguson, who kindly delivered the food from their friends.

“It’s like manna from heaven,” Bullaro said, referring to the many kind donations he receives.

A special concern, however, is what to do with surplus perishable foods sometimes donated early in the week. Often, it won’t keep until Saturday when Our Lady’s Pantry opens for clients.

“The overflow of fresh foods must be used quickly,” and so he used to be worried, he said. “Then unexpectedly, I got a call from Wings of Love and Street Angels Ministries asking if we could share any of our food with them. Both groups feed the homeless and other disadvantaged families throughout Hillsborough County.

“I said, yes — and we’ve been helping ever since. We also share surplus perishable foods with our local pantries, and they share with us. We do everything we can to get fresh food to those in need as quickly as possible.”

Sue Jobson, from Wings of Love, said Wings of Love feeds about 30 men, women, and children in Ruskin, Wimauma and Riverview about three times a week.

Vicki Shaffer, from Street Angels Ministry, said the ministry serves about 150 homeless men, women and children every Thursday evening in Gibsonton, Tampa and Ybor City.

Among other things, Bullaro often gets frozen cuts of meat from supermarkets that are too large for his regular clients. These groups, however, are able to use these cuts, which they cook to prepare hot, nutritious food for those in their care.

Jobson speaks for the many good-hearted people who care for those struggling with food insecurity and especially the homeless.

“I can’t sit down at my dinner table knowing others are hungry,” she said. “I see the smiles on their faces, and it is so rewarding.”

In addition to working with Wings of Love and Street Angels Ministry, Our Lady’s Pantry also delivers food and beverages to veterans in New Beginnings of Tampa every Saturday after the pantry closes.

To learn more about any of these groups, please visit:

• Wings of Love:
• Street Angels Ministry:
• New Beginnings:
• Our Lady’s Pantry:

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