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Positive Impact Ministries launches ‘Re-imagine St. Pete’ initiative

Ashley Morales



Positive Impact Ministries is launching a “Re-imagine St. Pete” campaign that takes a new approach to ending hunger. The first step is building a no-cost “neighborhood market” that mirrors a traditional grocery store. Rendering (above) and photo provided.

Positive Impact Ministries, a St. Petersburg-based nonprofit dedicated to fighting hunger, has unveiled an ambitious “Re-imagine St. Pete” initiative aimed at transforming the city’s approach to food insecurity. 

The campaign goal is to establish a network of neighborhood markets, urban gardens and a culinary arts center, providing equitable access to nutritious food and empowering the community through education and job training opportunities. Karen Rae, executive director of Positive Impact, said the first step will be opening a neighborhood market that mirrors a traditional grocery store.

Currently, Positive Impact gives about 700 families pre-made boxes of groceries each weekend at its drive-up food pantry, at Tangerine Plaza in South St. Pete. Rae wants to move away from this model, aiming to open the nonprofit’s first no-cost neighborhood store by the end of 2024.

“This is about reimagining what hunger relief looks like in our city and removing the stigma associated with food insecurity,” Rae said. “Right now, we have individuals and families waiting in the car line for a couple of hours to get food. That’s wonderful because people are no longer going to bed hungry as a result of the outreach, but we want to do it differently.”

Feeding Tampa Bay operates a similar concept at its newly built facility in Tampa, but Rae said this will be the first of its kind in St. Pete.

“This will allow individuals and families to select the foods they want and have a dignified shopping experience,” Rae explained. “When an individual brings their child to grocery shop at our store, that kid’s experience isn’t any different than any other kid that they go to school with.”

Rae hopes to open this first neighborhood market in Tangerine Plaza. Positive Impact Ministries submitted an all-cash proposal to purchase the city-owned site, located in an area known for a lack of fresh food, retail and housing options. However, Positive Impact isn’t the only interested buyer, and Rae said if they aren’t able to purchase the building, the nonprofit will move forward with its initiative at another location in the city. 

“Our mission isn’t real estate-based,” Rae added. “We want to go where the need is, of course, and we’re already there. We know the neighbors and it’s right in the middle of a food desert. So we want [Tangerine Plaza], we’re going for it and we’re doing our part, but it’s not going to make or break us. We’re respecting the process and we’re focused on our Re-imagine St. Pete initiative.”

Volunteers pass out boxes of groceries at Positive Impact Ministries’ weekly distribution event. Positive Impact has been distributing groceries at Tangerine Plaza since 2020.

Positive Impact Ministries has focused on hunger relief efforts in St. Petersburg since its inception in 2003. In 2023, the organization provided nearly 2 million meals to families and individuals in the area. Rae said she and her parents (who founded Positive Impact) felt the need to develop new strategies to tackle the pervasive and growing issue of hunger in St. Pete.

“It’s so important to remove the stigma associated with food insecurity because people feel shameful,” Rae said. “They feel embarrassed, and they really shouldn’t. We are serving working-class individuals and families who, because of inflation, are struggling to make ends meet.

“All of us, regardless of economic status, are more alike than we are different. Everyone can be affected [by food insecurity] at any time. Whether it’s an hourly wage employee, a salaried employee or a business owner who’s profiting greatly one day and not the next. So let’s humble ourselves. Let’s give people grace and treat every person with dignity and respect.”

After opening the neighborhood market, the “Re-imagine” initiative includes adding a “farmacy” that aims to educate people on food-based healthcare through programs hosted by nutrition and fitness experts. The multi-million dollar campaign also outlines plans for a culinary arts center, family cafe and banquet hall, all aimed at tackling inequality and the root causes of hunger

Rae said Positive Impact is now searching for community partners to help make the vision a reality. The nonprofit will host an event introducing the “Re-imagine St. Pete” initiative to the community June 21 at the Center for Health Equity. Those interested in attending the free event are asked to register in advance online here.


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  1. Avatar

    S. Rose Smith-Hayes

    May 23, 2024at7:06 pm

    Mayor Welch and City Council, Please sell the Tangerine Plaza property to Positive Impact, now, please.

  2. Avatar


    May 22, 2024at8:18 pm

    Positive Impact does amazing things for the community! Thank you!

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