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Feeding Tampa Bay partnership helps fill need in Sulphur Springs

Veggie Van
Posted at 5:02 AM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-05 08:33:08-04

Every Tuesday, people in Sulphur Springs know they have resources they can count to make sure there's food on their table.

"Nutrition is really important to keep our kids active, to keep their brains growing. And so a lot of what we provide is things that kids can either cook themselves, things that kids enjoy, but things that help kids grow. So you'll see a mix of cereal, produce, bread, sometimes snacks, again, soups or ravioli things that they can provide for themselves," explained Meagan Smithyman, Community School Director at Sulphur Springs PK-8 Community School.

Feeding Tampa Bay partners with local schools to make sure families are fed, even in the summer.

Renovations over the summer at the school meant they couldn't open their school pantry. So together, they all worked with the YMCA to mobilize their Veggie Van.

Every single Tuesday, there was food here for families in need.

"Inflation is crazy right now. We know that that's impacting the entire community, but especially families that live in Sulphur Springs, this is a food desert, so they don't have access to grocery stores in a close proximity. It's a walking community, so many of our families don't have personal transportation, so to have access to these things in the community is really a huge benefit to them. And then, on top of that, the kids being home seven days a week, all day. Really again, just having access to this is something that our families rely on," explained Smithyman.

In turn, you see healthier, happier and ready-to-learn children.

"We're seeing escalated behaviors, and a lot of times it's because they didn't eat appropriately or eat much over the weekend, right? Those are times where they're not in school receiving breakfast and lunch. And so we once we realized that that was the issue that they weren't eating and were able to provide snacks on campus or provide those families with things that supplement them through the weekend, we saw those behaviors de-escalate and so again, really a community need that impacts the education of our students, and it really is an easy fix," said Smithyman.