TAMPA, Fla. (Tampa Bay Now)– Everyone deserves an opportunity to make memories over the table with friends and family- but the reality is that so many people have to go without.
This holiday season, Feeding Tampa is the driving force in the Tampa Bay community that is helping break the cycle of hunger and reimagining new possibilities.
Each year, Feeding Tampa Bay provides millions of meals to families in need across 10 counties within the Tampa Bay area. Last year over 95 million meals were served. They are changing lives one meal at a time.
The Executive Affairs Officer for Feeding Tampa Bay, Shannon Oliviero, says, "one in six adults are food insecure in our area and one in four children. There are many ways you can help stand beside us and help fight hunger."
Oliviero has been a part of the team for over three years. Feeding Tampa allows all community members to be a part of its initiative and opens its doors to whoever is willing to help.
"I started volunteering about two and a half years ago with Feeding Tampa Bay, I had the time, and they had the need and so I just reached out, signed up for a volunteer shift and really enjoyed my time here and just kept coming back," said Scott Larson, Publix's community market lead.
Larson started as a volunteer and now leads the community market. Volunteers are crucial to the effort and play a significant role in how the facility runs.
"Especially now, coming out of the pandemic, with grocery prices, gas prices, and the cost of living increasing so much, people's budgets are really stretched, people really need the help, and we have the help."
Larson explained that the organization has partnered with more than 400 local charities and food pantries, including well-known donors such as Walmart, Publix, Amazon, and Sam's Club, to name a few. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have also helped Feeding Tampa Bay provide 9,895 meals to fight hunger in the community.
Groceries on the Go, a mobile grocery store operated by Feeding Tampa Bay, brings healthy food to neighborhoods that lack convenient access to healthy food. The volunteers will assist with setup and breakdown, serve as "personal shoppers" on the truck, package groceries for guests and assist guests in loading their vehicles with groceries.
This is an outdoor and off-site activity. The minimum age for this activity is 16.
The warehouse of Feeding Tampa Bay also offers opportunities for volunteers to help inspect perishable and nonperishable foods for expiration dates and quality. The fresh foods will then be packaged into bags or boxes for distribution to neighbors in the community.
In the warehouse, volunteers ages five and up are welcome, and volunteers of all ages are invited on Family Night. There may be times when volunteers are asked to carry up to 40 pounds. Feeding Tampa Bay asks there be one adult (18+) for every five volunteers under the age of 16.
A hungry-free Tampa Bay by 2025 is the goal of Feeding Tampa Bay. With community support and consistent action, Feeding Tampa Bay can increase access to food and effectively end hunger. Take part in the movement and help create change by bringing food to those in need and using your voice to spread awareness to friends and family.
To learn more about how you can help feed the season, visit their website at Feedingtampabay.org.
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