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Feeding Tampa Bay unveils new facility

Ashley Morales



Feeding Tampa Bay hosted a grand opening for its new facility in Tampa Thursday, inviting more than 500 guests to learn more and tour the new hub, called the “Causeway Center.” Photos: Ashley Morales.

Feeding Tampa Bay, one of the largest hunger relief organizations in the region, has opened a massive new 215,000-square-foot facility called the Causeway Center. 

The new $60 million state-of-the-art center, located in East Tampa, will serve as a centralized hub for Feeding Tampa Bay’s food distribution operations across a 10-county region in West Central Florida.

“I don’t know that I’ve seen a complex that has so much thoughtfulness towards future growth and future needs,” said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor at the grand opening ceremony Thursday. 

The new Causeway Center goes far beyond distributing food, representing a paradigm shift in Feeding Tampa Bay’s approach to tackling food insecurity. The building also hosts a comprehensive array of services and resources to help lift people out of poverty over the long term, including job training programs, educational courses and workshops, healthcare resources and much more.

At the event Thursday, Feeding Tampa Bay CEO Thomas Mantz announced the new facility will host six full-time, on-site partners and up to 25 rotating partners with varying hours, all able to meet with people who come to the building needing food and additional resources to get back on their feet.

“It’s a whole different view of how to approach community well-being,” Mantz told the Catalyst. “We could have just built a food bank, but we didn’t think that was the thing to do.”

In addition to providing 90,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space (more than doubling its previous footprint), the new facility also serves the community in unique ways. Next week, a no-cost grocery store will open on-site, where those in need can make an appointment to shop for free food in a traditional grocery store setting. Mantz said this offers “dignity of access and opportunity.”

Feeding Tampa Bay’s new facility includes a no-cost market, offering a traditional grocery store experience for individuals and families facing food insecurity. The market is sponsored and stocked by Publix.

In the coming weeks, Feeding Tampa Bay will also open an on-site eatery, similar to its Trinity Cafe concepts in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. Visitors to “The Bistro” will order a hot meal from a tablet, with options to receive that meal for free, pay what they can, or “pay it forward” to the next person.

Mantz said Feeding Tampa Bay outgrew its former facility, which was 80,000 sq. ft. and rented for $700,000 annually. He said they also lacked the space needed to store and move fresh, healthy produce at a time when the nonprofit needs to scale up in order to meet the demand. 

“We are seeing more people today than we’ve ever seen in our history,” Mantz said. “While a typical household might spend about 35% of their income on gas, food and rent or mortgage, the families we serve typically spend 60% of their income on those same items, and all of those are markedly more expensive.”

In addition to scaling its food distribution services, Feeding Tampa Bay’s new facility offers space to host partner organizations like BayCare, which has two exam rooms and a Higi machine on site.

Mantz added that the nonprofit expects to serve about 80 million meals this year. With the new expanded facility, Feeding Tampa Bay could potentially offer 150 million meals per year in the future.

The Causeway Center also offers increased volunteer capacity and a meeting space that can be reserved by the general public, with a seated capacity of 300. 

Funding for the $60 million project came from private donors, city and county support and, “tax incentive programs for building on distressed areas,” Mantz said.



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