USF mega pantry feeding 10,000 a week

A consistent line of cars, stacks of boxes, and groups of volunteers made for a lot of activity in the parking lot of the University of South Florida's Yuengling Center Wednesday afternoon.

This was USF's sixth drive-through mega pantry, first opened by Feeding Tampa Bay in mid-April. Since the pandemic began, Hannon-Oliviero says the number of people depending on the organization has grown from roughly 650,000 to 1.67 million.

A mega pantry can feed 10,000 people in a week.

"It's a quick way to feed the most people," Feeding Tampa Bay's Shannon Hannon-Oliviero said. "We have seen about 70% of those that we serve are in a food line for the very first time."

Each family receives fresh produce, non-perishable items, milk and different proteins.

The USF mega pantry is also serving as a test for the organization.

"We know this is a community in need and we just want to see what the need is here in this area," Hannon-Oliviero said.

This newest addition joins mega pantries at the Hillsborough Community College campus on Dale Mabry Highway, Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Pasco High School, DeSoto Square Mall and Lakes Church in Polk County. T

To get an additional idea of the scale of a mega pantry, it's 22x larger than a regular mobile pantry.

"This is our mission," Hannon-Oliviero said. "We don't want to see anyone sit around their table with nothing to eat."

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