Feeding Tampa Bay turns hunger to hope for hundreds of Bay area families

It's a tough time for many people, but Feeding Tampa Bay has made it their mission to make sure that food isn't on your list of worries.

The organization opened two, large-scale mobile food pantries in the Bay Area to help fill the need, and Saturday morning, cars were lined up before the pantries even opened.

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Cars weaved their way through the Hillsborough Community College campus and Tropicana Field Saturday morning as hundreds of families waited for a few bags of groceries.

"There's no socioeconomic boundary to this crisis,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman. This is unprecedented. It has affected everyone across the board from a high paying job to a low paying job.”

During these challenging times, the need for food is felt throughout the community as hunger doesn't discriminate.

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"If you look at the quality of the cars that are in line today, you see a much different person that's ever been in our line. It's a story we see over and over again, someone that volunteered with us or donated to us before, are seeking help now,” said Thomas Mantz, the CEO and President of Feeding Tampa Bay.

Feeding Tampa Bay has seen the demand for food rise drastically. Over the past week, their 'find food’ button on their website has seen clicks from more than 10,000 new users.

"We have seen a 400% increase in people asking for help,” said Mantz. “We have seen a 1,000% percent increase in people showing up at our warehouse asking for food."

With smiles hidden behind their masks, volunteers filled cars with food, hoping to take at least one thing off each families' list of worries

"They’re getting a bag of canned goods, they're getting some toilet paper that was donated by the Port of Tampa, along with some very important fresh vegetables,” said Mantz. “It's enough to get a family of two or three folks through three or four days."

Drivers left the line with a smile on their face, as many were thankful to trade their hunger for hope.

"What I see in this line today, I see tears, I see people's relief to know they have food for the weekend and the next couple days,” said Murman.

Feeding Tampa Bay has their large-scale, mobile pantry set up at the HCC campus off of Dale Mabry in Tampa and also at Tropicana Field. It is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. or until supplies last. 

Click here for more information on how you can volunteer.

If you are in need of food assistance or want more information on the mobile pantry service click here

If you would like to help Feeding Tampa Bay's mission, more information can be found at https://feedingtampabay.org/donate/ .

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

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