1 million people in Tampa Bay area need help finding food this holiday

Organizations that help feed less fortunate families are as busy as they've ever been, with COVID-19 impacting lives and budgets in many unforeseen ways.

Feeding Tampa Bay is assisting nearly twice as many families this year. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization was feeding about 625,000 people. Thomas Mantz, president and CEO of Feeding Tampa Bay, said that number is now more than 1 million.

"There's an overwhelming amount of people that need our help," Mantz said. "You can see as well as I the rising number of COVID cases, the challenges to businesses that have employed a lot of the folks we serve and unfortunately it looks like it's a really tough fall, early winter ahead. We're always hopeful, but the signs would indicate that it's a greater challenge."

Feeding Tampa Bay has had to double its efforts to produce twice as many meals: Up to 2 million a week.

Mantz said things are even more challenging during the holidays.

"This is the time of year when we have much greater pressure on families' budgets because there are typically greater expenses. And then you add to that a pandemic that is keeping people separated, segregated, economically challenged," he said. "It's a pretty difficult year. I think all of us are going to be glad to see 2020 kind of go into the record books." 

Organizations like Feeding Tampa Bay still need a lot of help, according to Mantz. He said he's always looking for volunteers and donations.

Mantz said his organization can help people who are food insecure find resources in their area by going to Feed Tampa Bay's website: https://feedingtampabay.org/