In Tampa Bay, 1 in 4 children is food insecure, meaning they lack access to enough affordable and nutritious food to lead healthy lives. This issue goes well beyond the bounds of the dinner table; food insecurity has profoundly negative effects on a child’s overall wellbeing too. Not only are they at higher risk of developmental delays and of having diabetes or other chronic health conditions, but they are more likely to struggle with behavioral and mental health issues as well. 

Moreover, food insecurity often impacts children’s academic performance. Students who go to school hungry may find it harder to concentrate in class, which can lead to poor grades or even decreased attendance. They may not be able to fully engage in social activities while at school either, making it more difficult for them to get along with their classmates. 

When students have access to healthy, satisfying food, they are able to maintain the energy they need to learn each day. FTB’s Feeding Minds program is an initiative aimed at lifting the barrier that hunger places on students. The program opens food pantries at schools where food insecurity risks are prevalent, and students and their families are encouraged to collect groceries and shelf-stable products free of charge. Many items are pantry staples that families can use to cook meals that are culturally appropriate and familiar to them. 

FTB currently has 75 school pantries across all grade levels (from elementary to college)  in 5 counties across the Tampa Bay region – Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk and Manatee. We aim to expand the Feeding Minds program across our 10-county area and continue feeding tummies, nourishing brains, and creating a brighter future for our community’s youth. 

To learn more about the Feeding Minds program and find a location near you, check out our website.