Senior hunger is a significant issue in the Tampa Bay area with nearly 150,000 of seniors struggling with access to healthy meals. This issue, often hidden in the shadows of shame and fear, was highlighted at the Elder Hunger Dinner hosted by a collective group of organizations whose missions are to ensure seniors in the Tampa Bay area have the resources they need to live stronger, healthier lives. The dinner generated nearly 100 attendees, including Rep. Kathy Castor and the Director of Food Security for the AARP Foundation, Kimberly Perry.
The goal of the Elder Hunger Dinner was to raise awareness and support for the issue here in our community where 1 in 7 adults struggle with food insecurity. The issue of hunger among seniors is even more critical because of the direct linkage between access to food and health. Seniors who face food insecurity are often left to choose between paying for food or medicine, a sacrifice they cannot afford to make as both help sustain or build their health. The Elder Hunger Dinner brought collaboration to life in a setting where strong community partners come together to create a stronger community.
In case you missed it, the Epic Chef Showdown concluded Monday, August 21st. Chef Colin Reinsmith from Noble Crust fought his way through three rounds of steep competition to become Tampa Bay’s next Epic Chef.
For those of you who don’t know, Epic Chef is a 7-week cooking competition that pits some of Tampa Bay’s top chefs head to head to create tasteful concoctions in 30 minutes or less. Chefs are required to prepare 2 dishes each week out of 2 mystery ingredients that are revealed before the start of each round. Mystery ingredients – ranging from Kraft Mac n Cheese to bratwurst to pizza dough and artichokes – may not traditionally go together, adding an extra element of challenge to the competition. At the end of each round, the judges taste the dishes the chefs have prepared and select a winner. Many come to compete, but only 1 can make it to the top.
On the surface, Epic Chef seems like a regular cooking competition. What you don’t know, is that its purpose is to do more than bring together foodies from around the area – it is to start the conversation about hunger in our community. In Tampa Bay, 700,000 individuals go to bed hungry every day. The majority of these individuals work full-time jobs or have multiple jobs, but are still unable to make ends meet. It’s time we break the stigma surrounding hunger and fight to make sure every plate is full, because no one should go hungry.
Join the fight and become a hunger hero today!
Special thanks to the participating restaurants/chefs and gracious sponsors who helped make this event possible.
Ladies and gentleman, meet John Van Hengel, founder and creator of the food bank, and the man Feeding Tampa Bay honors on
World Humanitarian Day.
In the late 1960s, John van Hengel was living in Phoenix, AZ. As a retired businessman, he had time on his hands and philanthropy in his heart. During this time, he began volunteering at a soup kitchen to feed the hungry. One day, he met a desperate mother who regularly rummaged through grocery store garbage bins to find food for her children. She suggested that there should be a place where, instead of being thrown out, discarded food could be stored for people to pick up—similar to the way “banks” store money for future use. With that, an industry was born.
Van Hengel established St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix, AZ as the nation’s first food bank. In its initial year, van Hengel and his team of volunteers distributed 275,000 pounds of food to people in need. Word of the food bank’s success quickly spread, and states began to take note. By 1977, food banks had been established in 18 cities across the country.
As the number of food banks began to increase, van Hengel created a national organization for food banks and in 1979 he established Second Harvest, which was later called America’s Second Harvest the Nation’s Food Bank Network. In 2008, the network changed its name to Feeding America to better reflect the mission of the organization.
Today, Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization—a powerful and efficient network of 200 food banks across the country that Feeding Tampa Bay is proud to be a part of. As food insecurity rates hold steady at the highest levels ever, the Feeding America network of food banks has risen to meet the need. Altogether, we feed 46 million people at risk of hunger, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors.
Because of John van Hengel, 46 million people now have a meal where there would have been an empty plate. Remember and honor this incredible man who took action against hunger in our country. One person really can make a difference.
“It’s amazing how many people are being fed because of this crazy little thing we started. We’re feeding millions and it’s not costing anyone anything.”
– John van Hengel
Now that you’ve registered your Food Drive, its time to start making a difference! Reference our Food & Fund Drive Toolkit below to guide you through the process. Click on the images to enlarge and download the PDF!
1. Recommended timeline of food drive – 2 weeks to a month
2. Host a Food AND Fund drive to give options to your donors who want to help
3. We can provide food drive boxes or you can use your own!
4. Download our NEW donation form to help track your donation
If you need additional support, please contact:
Andrea Kitchen at email@example.com
Spending time with family is important – it builds relationships, character, and memories – but what if you could add another element to that? What if there was an activity that upheld all of these elements of quality time AND allowed you to give back to the community? Insert: Family Night at Feeding Tampa Bay.
Family Night invites children of all ages to the Feeding Tampa Bay warehouse to learn about hunger, how it affects our community, and how they can help alleviate it. If you haven’t been to a Family Night event, here’s 10 reasons why you should register your family for our next event:
1. Learn how you can help the 700,000 food insecure individuals in our community (of which 250,000 are children).
2. Plant seeds to learn about gardening, paint pictures or write cards to clients, decorate food, or even play games. Activities vary each month to bring new elements of fun to your family.
3. Enjoy snacks like subs, fruits, veggies, and chips.
4. Capture your memories and enjoy photo booth fun!
5. Raffle prizes! Prizes vary from backpacks full of new school supplies to tickets to a Ray’s game, and everything in between
6. Exercise! Sorting in our warehouse burns calories and builds muscles. Not to mention, it’s the perfect way for children to burn some energy before bedtime!
7. Meet other like-minded families that value the importance of altruism and are passionate about fighting hunger.
8. Provide around 10,000 meals for the food insecure community in just 1 night!
9. Feel good about giving back to your community.
10. It’s not your typical Friday night!