Tampa (7/19/17) – Today, Feeding Tampa Bay announced a $50,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to fund the infrastructure that will ultimately help the food bank’s partner agencies secure and distribute more nutritious food to families in need. The grant will support investments in the equipment necessary to handle perishable products, such as refrigerated vehicles; coolers and freezers for transporting, storing and distributing food; thermometers and temperature calibration devices; among other items.
“One in seven people struggle with hunger in Tampa Bay, including 250,000 children,” said Thomas Mantz. “We are thankful to the Walmart Foundation for helping to ensure that people who struggle with hunger have access to nutrient-rich food. This grant will go a long way in helping Feeding Tampa Bay and our partner agencies serve our community.”
Feeding Tampa Bay secures fresh, perishable food from retailers across the Tampa Bay area. Every week, we pick up food donations from over 500 retail locations across our territory. Not only is our fleet of trucks responsible for picking up these donations, but we have also enabled many of our agency partners to pick up donations directly from nearby stores. That being said, the grant from Walmart has been used to purchase 22 commercial grade refrigerators for our agency partners who pick up from retail locations. Access to refrigerated storage space is critical to building the capacity of our partner agencies and allows them to distribute more meals to our community. With refrigerated storage space, our agencies can distribute more fresh, healthy food, thus improving the overall health of our hungry neighbors.
The Walmart Foundation has been instrumental in helping food banks rescue and distribute more perishable food from retailers across the United States in a sustainable, cost-effective way. This grant is a part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s ongoing commitment to helping families who struggle with hunger by providing four billion meals to people in need in the U.S. by 2020.
Since 2009, the Walmart Foundation has been a leading supporter of infrastructure grants to Feeding America food banks and their member agencies. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation provide donations of both food and funds to the Feeding America nationwide network of 200 food banks. Last year, Walmart donated over 9,000,000 pounds of food to Feeding Tampa Bay via the Retail Store Donation Program, and created 7,500,000 meals for our local community. This year looks hopeful for reaching or exceeding those same numbers. The refrigerator donation will create over 1.5 million pounds of cooler capacity annually for our agency partners, allowing them to receive even more food throughout the year.
With food insecurity remaining high throughout the country, the ability to distribute more food is critical for food banks. According to the USDA, more than 42 million people nationwide are food insecure, which means that they may not know where they will find their next meal. In Tampa Bay, 700,000 residents are food insecure. To learn more about what Feeding Tampa Bay is doing to fight hunger, visit feedingtampabay.org.
Ted Dorsey, owner and executive chef of The Mill in St. Petersburg, said every restaurant strives to maximize food preparation and avoid waste, even when it means taking the spatula and scraping every drop of that special sauce out of the bowl.
It’s certainly a matter of efficiency, but another factor drives the chefs and restaurateurs. Food waste haunts them because they know someone out there is going hungry. In greater Tampa Bay, one out of seven adults lives with food insecurity.
It’s this altruistic spirit that helps fuel the fun of the Epicurean Hotel’s third annual Epic Chef Showdown. Make no mistake, the contest, which kicked off with the first of seven weekly showdowns at the Epicurean’s splendid kitchen theater on Monday, stands as a culinary treat.
Imagine watching a show like the Food Network’s Chopped while being served a coursed meal with wine pairings, and you’ll understand the festive nature of the event.
The gathering on Monday pitted The Mill’s Richard Bergendale against Jeff Thorns-berry from Locale Market, each preparing two courses for a celebrity judging panel using secret ingredients: shrimp and turkey bacon for the first course, Hershey’s chocolate syrup and yellow-fin tuna for the second entree. Adding to the fun: a 30-minute clock.
Other participating restaurants include: Ava, Armani’s, Mise en Place, Noble Crust, Parkshore Grill and Rooster & the Till.
Thornsberry, who bested Bergendale, will join winners from the other three weeks — July 17, July 24 and July 31 — in semifinal rounds on Aug. 7 and Aug. 14. The finale will be held on Aug. 21. A limited number of tickets to the public are available for $90 (finale is $120) at EpicChefTampaBay.com.
But the event is so much more than a treat for the 40-plus people able to squeeze into the kitchen. Proceeds go to Feeding Tampa Bay and its mission of feeding the 700,000 people in our 10-county area who awake each day wondering if they’ll have a nutritious meal.
“When you put numbers in front of people, numbers don’t lie,” said Epicurean general manager Kevin Scott. “It hits home. We thought this would be a creative way to bring awareness and start the conversation.”
One of the numbers that strike a chord: One out of every four children lives with food insecurity. Uriah’s Urban Farms owner David Smiles, one of the sponsors, said that statistic grabs him every time he looks at his own four children.
And it’s that heartfelt emotion Feeding Tampa Bay executive director Thomas Mantz hopes to grow in everyone. With awareness being the nonprofit’s biggest challenge, the event is being live-streamed on Feeding Tampa Bay’s YouTube and Facebook channels, with host Topher Morrison reminding people that most of the food Feeding Tampa Bay gives away goes into the homes of those living just above the poverty line.
“Most of the people have homes, have jobs,” Mantz said. “They’re just struggling. It doesn’t mean they’re not working hard, it doesn’t mean they don’t care, it doesn’t mean they aren’t committed or dedicated. It just means their salaries don’t add up to their obligations.”
But what the event best represents is a chance for chefs to match their culinary passions with their heart for helping people. They understand better than most the meal is more than just sustenance. People aren’t just going without food, they’re missing out on the spiritual, psychological and emotional values that come with gathering together for a meal.
Feeding Tampa Bay’s mission, and the work of Trinity Cafe, which feeds the food insecure in two Tampa locations on a daily basis, has given me odd perspective when I dine out.
Every time others leave behind plates of barely-touched food, it makes me cringe because I know someone out there would devour it. Restaurants have no choice but to throw it away.
This doesn’t mean you have to clean every plate or take home those fries sure to linger in your car for a couple of days.
But if everyone committed to donating to Feeding Tampa Bay every time they left a half-eaten meal behind, well, that would be truly epic.
That’s all I’m saying.
Ernest Hooper: Top chefs try to squeeze food for the hungry from every meal 07/13/17 [Last modified: Thursday, July 13, 2017 10:34am]; Tampa Bay Times
Join Stream Recycling as they aim to Shred Hunger this June. On June 23rd, donate 10 cans or $10 to Feeding Tampa Bay for every box of electronics you would like professionally shredded! Download the Shred Hunger flyer.
See below for a complete list of acceptable and unacceptable electronics.
home & office phones
cables & cords
gaming consoles (Xbox, PlayStation, etc)
UPS battery backups
small household appliances
battery operated hand tools
ink & toner cartridges
TVs of ANY kind
mercury containing devices
Should you have any questions regarding the items you can shred, please contact Lisa Marie Loar from Stream Recycling.
Lisa Marie Loar
For all other event related questions, please contact Karen Griffin from Feeding Tampa Bay.
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