Feeding Tampa Bay Expands and Bolsters Emergency Food Distribution in Polk County

Tampa, Fla. – Feeding Tampa Bay, the backbone of hunger relief in 10 counties, is taking over Agape Food Bank’s responsibilities to feed the nearly 100,000 food-insecure individuals living in Polk County. Before shuttering, Agape Food Bank was contracted to operate within Feeding Tampa Bay’s distribution network as Polk County’s main food bank.

“Our first priority is to ensure service to the families in Polk continues without disruption, and we’re working closely with agencies across the county to establish frequent food deliveries.” said Thomas Mantz, executive director of Feeding Tampa Bay. “Feeding Tampa Bay has 35 years of experience in serving the hungry in our communities. We’ve executed similar food distribution strategies in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas to great success.”

Feeding Tampa Bay sources food from farmers, retailers and other providers, and will implement its efficient operations model to get more meals to more people in need throughout Polk County. Feeding Tampa Bay is coordinating several programs with its new agency partners in Polk County, including the following:

  1. 1. Retail Route Drop Program, which allows agencies to receive food that has just been picked up from retail stores like Publix and Walmart – ideal for the fresh, perishable product. Feeding Tampa Bay delivers food directly to agencies halfway through their retail route, and makes another stop at the end of the retail route at a location where several agencies will come pick up that food, splitting it evenly between their pantries. These take place three days per week.

  2. 2. Hub Drops, another delivery model program in which Feeding Tampa Bay transports food from the Feeding Tampa Bay warehouse to an agency or several agencies’ locations. These will take place up to four times per week as agency partners sign up for the program.

  3. 3. Bulk Pick-Ups allow Feeding Tampa Bay’s partners who have refrigerated trucks to come pick up large quantities of food for their pantries from the Feeding Tampa Bay facility.

  4. 4. The Winn-Dixie Charity Market, which is located on-site at Feeding Tampa Bay. Several agencies in Polk County have expressed interest in shopping there. To best prepare, Feeding Tampa Bay is working each of these agencies into the schedule and evaluating the need to open additional shifts to accommodate more traffic at the facility.

  5. 5. The Agency Empowered Retail Program, which Feeding Tampa Bay uses to pair agencies directly with stores in their area so that they can pick up food from the stores themselves.

  6. 6. USDA TEFAP hub drops at two locations twice each week.

  7. 7. Direct Distribution/Mobile Pantry Program, Feeding Tampa Bay will be executing direct distributions monthly to help bring more food to Polk County. These distributions will bring truckloads of nutritious food (both non-perishable and perishable) directly into high-need areas.

Not only bringing efficiency, the Feeding Tampa Bay distribution model will also increase the amount of meat and fresh produce given to hungry Polk families.

“Feeding Tampa Bay has provided us with a smooth transition – with a great selection of product and helpful solutions to share with the recipients of our food pantry,” said R. Alan Sheppard, Student and Missions Pastor at Mt. Tabor Baptist Church. “The retail truck route also works very well with us. We work together as a team to put away frozen items and prepare for the upcoming week.”

To learn more about how Feeding Tampa Bay operates, visit FeedingTampaBay.org.