Human trafficking survivor opens pantry to help other victims

Just off the corner of East Chelsea Street and North Nebraska Avenue, there’s a place where hearts and pantries are always open.

Nancy Hernandez, who first came to the United States from Puerto Rico in 1991, had made it her life’s mission to help those in need. Tuesday, she opened a brick-and-mortar location dedicated to doing just that.

A survivor of human trafficking, Hernandez started a mission years ago to help victims who escaped similar abuse.

Over the last several years, she’s expanded to include Puerto Ricans displaced by hurricanes, domestic abuse victims, and immigrants from Central America.

"It is a great achievement in that, I can say it is possible and it can be done," Hernandez said.

Inside this Seminole Heights location, you’ll find a food and toiletries pantry, kept full with the help of donations and Feeding Tampa Bay. The pantry is open Wednesdays and Fridays.

But it goes beyond putting food on the table and necessities into cabinets.

"We have 43 organizations that work together with us, that we can help people that are looking for health insurance," she said. "We have mental health services, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors."

They also offer covid testing.

Congresswoman Kathy Castor says, especially during the pandemic, people like Hernandez have been a lifeline to families in need.

"Have safe housing, have the healthcare that they need," she said. "And most importantly, have that basic sustenance and Nancy has a heart for this community."

From escaping the wrath of human trafficking to a world of helping others, Nancy hopes her story inspires compassion from others.

"Because you can do it. From where I was, to where I am positioned today, and only God can put you in a place like this – he is the only one," she said. 

For more information on the pantry and Seminole Heights location, you can email Hernandez at