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Community Voices: Collaboration can knock out hunger

Freddy Williams



Photo by Gabriel Garcia-Marengo/Unsplash.

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As we enter the holiday season, it’s easy to envision a table surrounded by family and an abundance of food. Yet, for thousands of Pinellas County youth, this is simply out of reach. According to the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County (JWB), nearly 32,000 youth in Pinellas County experience food insecurity. This means, one in five children may battle hunger this season.

This Thanksgiving, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast has partnered with United Way Suncoast and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to share 200 turkeys with Club families. Additionally, each turkey will come with healthy sides for the entire family, ensuring our kids can have the holiday they deserve. But what happens after the holidays?  How do we ensure this service, that is so vital to our community is available year-round? How do we rally against childhood hunger here in our own community? 

With inflation, and hourly wages failing to meet the financial needs of many of the families that we serve, purchasing groceries for a home with growing children is becoming increasingly more difficult. For many of the youth who attend our programs, the meals and snacks provided at our Club locations are the most secure and nutritionally balanced foods they receive each day.

There are many feeding programs across the Tampa Bay region, and many are doing great work. However, very few programs focus specifically on the critical nutritional needs of youth. This year, in partnership with JWB, Pinellas County Schools, and key strategic partners, we have served over 200,000 hot, nutritious meals and snacks to children at no cost. Yet, we know there are still youth we need to reach. This is a hurdle that we are diligently working to overcome as we strive to serve additional kids in 2023 and continue to expand our feeding program, leaving no kid hungry.

Young people need food to grow and thrive. When kids are hungry, multiple aspects of their lives suffer. Community collaboration is vital in ensuring families get the food they need. Many of our partners have been a key factor in supporting our feeding program expansion over the years, giving us much to be thankful for, not only this holiday, but every day of the year.

This holiday season, as you reflect on the things you are thankful for, remember the impact that just one secure meal a day can make in the life of a growing child. To learn more about how to support the food security of a young person in your community, please visit

Freddy Williams is President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast.

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