Here is a tribute to all the hunger heroes who went above and beyond the call of duty for Feeding Tampa Bay when our community needed it most. We sincerely appreciate the kindness and generosity put forth by the various individuals and companies who helped to uplift our neighbors in a time of struggle.
These individuals were struck with empathy in the face of Irma and sprung into action to help their neighbors.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. This 7 year old hunger hero saw the destruction caused by Irma and decided to act. A fan of peanut butter, he put together a peanut butter drive with the help of his friends at the Cheesecake Factory so those in need of a meal could have protein to eat. Even though he faces challenges of his own, his concern for others pushed forth.
Sandy lives off the grid in Arizona, making her uniquely equipped to offer advice to individuals living without power. After hearing a Category 5 storm would hit the entire state of Florida, she made the immediate decision to drive across the country to help in any way she could. Sandy spent the week volunteering with Feeding Tampa Bay to help push out meals to our community in need. Special heroes like Sandy push away fear and run straight towards emergency situations to lend a helping hand.
Friend of the food bank, Lisa Ross, came to the rescue when our community needed it most. Although Feeding Tampa Bay sits on 50,000 sq ft of warehouse space, it was not enough room to support the truckloads of food being sent our way post-Irma. Lisa, a real estate agent at Avison Young, helped us to secure a 35,000 sq ft area to store our food, along with a donated warehouse space from our landlords at Transport Drive to use while we have this surplus of food. It is because of this extra space that we are able to hold multiple relief distributions per day.
Kindness and compassion know no distance. Multiple groups of individuals drove hundreds of miles to donate trucks full of supplies for Irma relief.
Lucy began her drive right after she saw coverage on TV of the devastation Irma caused to much of Florida. She knew she could only watch for so long before she had to take action. Lucy loaded up her truck with canned goods, water, household supplies, chainsaws, and a generator and drove to various food banks in Florida dropping off supplies along the way.
Jenn and Rachel, Charlotte, NC
Living in North Carolina, Jenn and Rachel feared a turn up the coast from Irma and began gathering supplies to prepare for potential landfall from Irma. After viewing the coverage of Irma’s aftermath in Florida and deciding their supplies could be better used elsewhere, they decided to load their food truck Roaming Fork with food and water and drive it down to Feeding Tampa Bay to distribute to those in need. When asked what prompted their actions, they responded “Florida needed us.”
Alex and Lawrence, Burlington, NC
Friends and business partners Alex and Lawrence decided to host a food and supply drive for Irma victims after watching the Hand in Hand telethon for Hurricane victims one night. After a week of collecting donations, they drove down two 26 ft trucks full of water, canned goods, non-perishable items, diapers, and formula to Tampa.
Whether these organizations saw a need to offer volunteer time, services, or food and supplies, they jumped in to help support our community.
St. Pete Police Department
Law enforcement officers protect and serve our community. Without hesitation, the St. Pete PD reached out to Feeding Tampa Bay to find out how they could assist in relief efforts in the weeks following Irma. In finding out that we were short on personnel, the officers volunteered at 5 of our distributions in Pinellas County. They helped distribute bags of food, carry items to client’s cars or homes, and spread positivity in a stressful time.
Stepps Towing Services
While Feeding Tampa Bay has a number of trucks in its fleet, our service area covers 10 counties and could always use additional support in terms of capacity and distribution. Stepps Towing Services came to the rescue and offered Feeding Tampa Bay one of their trucks and one of their drivers for 2 weeks to assist with relief efforts.
At Feeding Tampa Bay, we feed people, but our friends at Dunkin’ Donuts thought they would feed us! Dunkin’ Donuts brought a coffee bar and donuts to our warehouse on 2 separate mornings to help our employees, volunteers, and agency partners reenergize and refuel. As most of us were “running on empty” it was a sweet addition to our week!
Tampa Bay Rays
In the aftermath of Irma, the Tampa Bay Rays took notice of those affected by the storm in our community and decided to take action. What was supposed to be a one day event featuring Feeding Tampa Bay at Rays Up night combined with a food drive, turned into a 5 day affair. The Rays held an emergency relief distribution at Tropicana Field, donated 1 million meals to Feeding Tampa Bay at Rays Up night, hosted a 3-day food and supply drive for Irma relief, and spent a day volunteering at our warehouse.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sports tend to bring the community together and create an atmosphere of support. In the aftermath of Irma, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came out to support the community that typically supports them. Bucs employees joined us for a distribution at Jordan Park, packing and distributing relief bags to our neighbors in need. At another distribution, quarterback Jameis Winston distributed $25 Publix gift cards to 500 individuals and served our clients on the front line. Winston built a team of youths from the line and involved them in packing the relief bags, creating a sense of community and togetherness at the site.
If you tried to visit your local supermarket during Irma prep, then you know most shelves were bare. Limitations on resources and power left store shelves bare for days following the storm. As a food bank, and first responder in emergency situations, Feeding Tampa Bay called on our food donor partners for help in the wake of Irma.
After reaching out to Publix to find out if they had food available to donate or bags to package food in, the organization teamed together to provide Feeding Tampa Bay with both on short notice. One store manager donated a pallets-worth of canned goods from his store, loading them in the bed of a pick-up truck, and hand-staking them onto a pallet in our warehouse. Another manager rushed to find 30,000 bags to donate to Feeding Tampa Bay, and hand-delivered them to us days before the storm so that we could pack emergency relief bags and deliver them to clients as quickly as possible.
As you may have seen on social media, Feeding Tampa Bay lost power during the storm, and remained without power for several days following the storm. Needless to say, our cooler product had spoiled and we had no fruits or vegetables to distribute. Del Monte got word of this and donated several trailer loads of bananas to us, in hopes of providing enough fruit for the first few days of emergency relief community distributions.
Hoping to replenish the shelves of our families in need, Kellogg’s donated 4 trailers full of snacks to Feeding Tampa Bay and shipped the product across the country to our warehouse.
Our partners at WalMart wanted to ensure that Feeding Tampa Bay had enough product to carry us through our daily emergency relief distributions – at times there were 13 and 14 distributions a day. WalMart donated all excess product from their Distribution Center to Feeding Tampa Bay to feed the 700,000+ people in our community affected by the storm.
Our donors support us all year long but in times of unexpected great need, the outpouring of support raises to levels that exceed all of our expectations. We are honored to partner with donors that put the needs of our community at the forefront of their priorities. Special thanks goes out to all of our donors, including:
Our partnership with the Tampa Bay Ray’s was built on the shared belief that no one should go hungry. While their concern and dedication to our cause is grounded in eliminating food insecurity in our area, their efforts intensified in the wake of Irma.
What was set to be a one-night event with Feeding Tampa Bay as the organizational highlight for Rays Up night, turned into a 5-day Irma relief fundraiser.
The weekend kicked off on September 14th with the distribution of Irma relief bags at Tropicana Field. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway, officers from the St. Petersburg Police Department, and staff from the Rays and Feeding Tampa Bay loaded client cars with emergency bags of food. The emergency bags included Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MRE’s), bananas, and water for those in need following the storm.
Rays Up night followed on September 15th with the Rays vs Red Sox game. As part of Rays Up night, the Rays provided a number of tickets to Feeding Tampa Bay to sell. For each ticket sold for the game, the Rays donated 50 meals to the Tampa Bay community. During the game, Feeding Tampa Bay’s Executive Director, Thomas Mantz, was brought on field and presented with a check providing 1 million meals for Irma relief.
In addition to the Rays Up night organizational highlight, the Rays hosted a food and supply drive for the victims of Hurricane Irma. Spectators were asked to bring non-perishable goods, household products, and baby items to help support our neighbors affected by the storm. While usually 700,000 individuals in our community go hungry every day, this number increased after Irma made landfall. Irma downed trees and closed businesses, leaving numerous individuals without power, with spoiled food, and with lost wages. In a commitment to help these individuals, the Rays extended the food and supply drive throughout the weekend. Over 3 days, the donation drive collected 7,660 pounds of food and $735.63 in funds, providing 13,739 meals to the community.
Following the game and the food drive, the Rays spent the day volunteering at Feeding Tampa Bay. The 42 individuals that joined us sorted through and packaged the influx of food from FEMA and from our other major relief donors.
These hunger heroes are there for us throughout the year and stepped up to the plate when times were tough. We’re grateful to team together for the Tampa Bay community.
Harvest Hope Park
Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church
Dover Boys & Girls Club
CDC of Tampa
Sligh Middle School
Sumter County Fairgrounds | Wildwood Community Center
The Art of the Nature Coast | Robles Park Village
Community Food Bank of Citrus County
WHAT: Feeding Tampa Bay is delivering and distributing a truckload of Meals Ready to Eat (MRE), bananas and water to those in need due to Hurricane Irma. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway, officers from the St. Petersburg Police Department and front office staff from the Rays and Feeding Tampa Bay will be on hand to help distribute food to the public.
WHEN: This evening, Thursday, September 14 from 5-6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Parking Lot 6 at Tropicana Field. Lot 6 entry is off 1st Ave. S. or the main Tropicana Field entrance off 9th St. S.
Due to the severe storms and flooding caused by Hurricane Irma, and effective
immediately, retail food stores licensed by the Food and Nutrition Service to accept
SNAP benefits in the State of Florida may accept SNAP benefits in exchange for
HOT foods and foods intended to be consumed on retailer premises:
These special rules are in effect through September 30, 2017.
When hot foods are purchased with SNAP EBT benefits through September 30, 2017, the purchases are NOT subject to sales tax, as the foods mentioned above are considered SNAP eligible during this period.
We encourage all SNAP authorized retail food stores in the State of Florida to post a special notice in the store letting SNAP customers know that they can use their SNAP EBT benefits to purchase hot foods and, where practical, may remain on the premises to consume those foods.
(Tampa, Fla.) Sept. 9, 2017 – As Florida braces for Hurricane Irma’s impact, The Salvation Army is partnering with state partners to support families and individuals who may be impacted by the storm. The Salvation Army of Florida gave more than 82,000 bottles of water and more than 27,000 boxes of shelf-stable meals to Feeding Tampa Bay.
The water and shelf-stable meals are being delivered to Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties, serving as an emergency disaster staging area. Additional staging areas will be added for support throughout the Florida in the storm’s aftermath.
Throughout the state of Florida, the Salvation Army has 32 canteens (mobile kitchens) on standby along with a fleet of equipment which includes two field kitchens and various units to support personnel. The Salvation Army has more than 3,000 trained volunteers and staff in Florida, ready to offer a warm meal, bottled water, coffee and offer emotional and spiritual care.
“The Salvation Army is actively preparing for the potential impact of the storm throughout the state,” said Jerry Stickney, Salvation Army of Florida Logistician. “We are working alongside as many state agencies as we can to ensure we can support as many residents as we can.”
Donations to support the relief work of The Salvation Army can be made at www.helpsalvationarmy.org, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY, by texting STORM to 51555, or by check (designated “Hurricane 2017”) mailed to PO Box 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301.
Natural disasters can create an increased need for resources in a community. Food Banks and other relief organizations work as a team to bring help and comfort to people suffering the effects of these disasters.
Feeding Tampa Bay is still without power. We are working today to distribute food to our partner agencies and to emergency shelters in our community affected by Hurricane Irma. We hope to be fully operational soon. Hope everyone stayed safe during the storm!
Great collaboration today with partners from Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services USA. Today we picked up truckloads of MREs and bottled water in preparation for the storm. Read more.
Attention SNAP members: To help families prepare for Hurricane Irma, SNAP benefits for the month of September will be released within 48 hours for customers who have not already received them.
We will continue to provide updates as we learn more about Irma’s path
Check back here or follow @FeedingTampaBay on Facebook and Twitter for updates
Feeding Tampa Bay is prepared to handle disaster situations, and work directly with local emergency management operations in providing food, water, and hygiene items during crisis situations. If Tampa Bay faces a disaster, such as flooding from a hurricane or tropical storm, Feeding Tampa Bay will have the resources and communication plan in place to concentrate on helping victims of the storm in the 10 counties we serve. We are closely monitoring Hurricane Irma and will provide updates on its potential impact and our plans for relief.
Make sure you’re prepared
Although weather patterns are ever-changing, it is important to be prepared for any impact of hurricanes threatening Florida. While we wait to learn the path Hurricane Irma will take, let’s make sure we have plans in place in case of a direct hit. Reference materials are provided below:
Publix Supermarkets Charities awards a major grant of $100,000 to Feeding Tampa Bay to expand its child hunger programs. The grant will enable the expansion of community-based food distributions to local schools and mobile food pantries in the area. It is expected that more than 450,000 more fresh meals will be delivered to children in need annually as a result of the grant.
Feeding Tampa Bay and Publix are also working to provide support to the Hurricane Harvey victims with a joint effort to gather resources for families devastated by the storm. In addition to its in-store collection efforts, Publix will also donate water, a critically needed resource. On Friday, September 1st, a team of volunteers at Feeding Tampa Bay sorted and packaged personal care items, household cleaning items and other products, also in great need, to add to the relief effort.
Partnerships like this help keep our mission afloat day in and day out.
The devastation in Houston brought on by Hurricane Harvey has left much of the country in shock. Hurricane Harvey has now been classified as the most extreme rain event in our nation’s history. Over 50 inches of rain. Thousands of families displaced. Homes and businesses destroyed.
Waters are still high across Texas and the damage is only beginning to be assessed. We are keeping our eyes fixed on the recovery efforts, coordinating with other first-responder organizations, to make sure we are providing the necessary support for people on-the-ground.
We are part of the Feeding America network of food banks and a majority of our member food banks in the Houston area have been affected by Harvey. Food banks across the country (including us!) are gathering resources to send to these fellow food banks to ensure they receive as much help as they need.
On September 9th, Feeding Tampa Bay will hold a personal care drive to distribute to the victims in Houston. If you would like to get involved with the relief efforts, here is a list of the most needed items:
Personal Hygiene Products
Download a flyer for the drive to share with your friends.
Questions or concerns? Please contact our Director of Marketing & Communications: