Developed along the railway routes in north-central Florida, Haines City was home to many Floridians working in the citrus industry during the 1950s. Hazel Westfall remembers working at her grandfather’s citrus stand growing up, packing and grading oranges. “My family worked off the land for years, but as future generations grew, the trade was lost.” The increase in population following World War II boosted land development of both commercial and residential sites - decreasing the amount of land dedicated to citrus cultivation. This industry shift left many families without work and the city underdeveloped. Despite the economic change, Hazel could not leave Polk County; a place she has now called home for over 70 years.

Today, Hazel finds unparalleled support from her local food pantry, A House Blest. “The nearest grocery store to me is miles away in a different town. With the pantry, I’m able to cook classic recipes for my family with the food I pick up each week. As a retired resident, I would have a very difficult time affording a healthy diet at my age.” Thanks to A House Blest food pantry, Hazel is able to remain in her hometown and spend time cooking nutritious meals for her family and community.

Our Agency Partners, like A House Blest, are responsible for moving 80% of Feeding Tampa Bays' food into the community. Each partner goes above and beyond to meet the ever-growing and ever-changing demands of the neighbors they serve. Thanks to your help - people like Hazel have the food resources they need to lead active and sustainable lives!

For more resources on how to best serve your community, visit our Agency Access Portal.