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Community Voices: Feeding Tampa Bay seeks help from restaurants to meet growing need.

Matt Spence

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The COVID-19 or Coronavirus has begun to impact the Tampa Bay community in significant ways.  Along with those we currently serve on a daily basis, we expect a growing need for our services given the continuation of closings resulting in higher family expenses like childcare or medical care, coupled with reduced income for many hourly workers who are in hospitality, food service, and the entertainment/sports fields. As the food relief leader in our community, Feeding Tampa Bay has begun to develop or deploy programs that will ensure our neighbors in need have the food and resources they require. And, as the organization that supports virtually all other agencies in Tampa Bay, our work is designed to impact the entirety of the food relief system.

As we consider those at risk, we are focusing our efforts on covering both those we already serve as well stepping into the gaps that are created by the crisis, specifically:

  • Children who are out of school and will have no access to school meals or after-school meals.
  • Seniors and others who are at greatest risk and cannot reach food.
  • Families who are experiencing higher expenses and lower wages who would not normally have needed our services.

The size and scope of each of these populations could be significant, and our preparation needs to reflect this potential reality.

Procuring and distributing more than 4.5 million meals every month, Feeding Tampa Bay is equipped to handle all types of food donations, including unopened/unused restaurant product, dry goods and perishable food items such as fruits, vegetables, and frozen meats. 

We encourage restaurants and other large volume donors who have excess product due to closures to reach out to Feeding Tampa Bay’s Director of Food Acquisition, Pete Lenhardt at plenhardt@feedingtampabay.org

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