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Feeding Tampa Bay prepares for increase in need as some Florida weekly unemployment benefits end

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Posted at 6:51 AM, Jun 22, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — Later this week, on June 26, Florida will join other states in ending some pandemic unemployment benefits early.

Leaders are cutting the extra $300 weekly unemployment payments, even though congress has made it available to states until early September.

“The reality for many of the families that we serve is the extension of benefits, the additional services provided, have really helped families stay afloat during a difficult time,” said Thomas Mantz, President & CEO of Feeding Tampa Bay.

The weekly federal boost started during the pandemic to provide financial assistance.

State officials say this cut is all part of Florida’s ‘Return to Work’ initiative.

“One of the great things about benefits and service is they allow families to stay stable. Whenever those opportunities aren’t the same, more pressure is on us to make sure that the community is okay,” said Mantz.

Some local organizations fear this will cause more people to experience food insecurity.

“We’re aware that policy decisions are made for a variety of reasons. The reality is organizations like ours have to deal with those outcomes. We have to make sure that we’re still there for families that need us,” said Mantz.

Groups like Feeding Tampa Bay are preparing to help more people in need.

“When there’s any change to benefits it affects those we serve. We see a direct correlation between a lack of benefits and more people in our food lines. When there are more benefits available, services available, we see less people in our food line,” said Mantz.

As those extra payments come to a close this week, Mantz says Feeding Tampa Bay will make sure there’s enough food for anyone who may now need more help.

“So for us, we have to make sure that we get prepared, provide as much resources we can to make sure that families stay healthy, stay stable and have access to the food and services that they need,” said Mantz.

If you’re facing food insecurity, or know someone who is and need assistance, go to the Feeding Tampa Bay website to find resources in your neighborhood.

If you want to help people in need, Mantz says Feeding Tampa Bay is always looking for volunteers. For donation information,visit their website.