TAMPA, Fla. — It’s not even a year old, but a food pantry in downtown Tampa is already making an impact.
Funded by Feeding Tampa Bay, The Clerk’s Table pantry is operated by Hillsborough County Clerk of Court Cindy Stuart and her staff.
“This is good work,” said Stuart. “It’s just an opportunity for us to serve the community differently.”
The pantry was launched last December as a resource to help employees from the clerk’s office who are struggling with food insecurity. Since then, Stuart realized that many other public servants in the area are facing the same struggle as inflation soars.
“I don’t know if anybody’s priced meat or eggs — things are high,” Stuart explained. “We’re all government agencies, and even though we are upwards of $15 an hour and paying that minimum by statute and probably paying a little bit more, in today’s economy, that doesn’t get you very far.”
So, as of this summer, the focus of The Clerk’s Table pantry has now expanded to help more public servants, including those from the State Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, 13th Judicial Circuit Court, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, City of Tampa, and Hillsborough County government.
Last week, it officially partnered with Hillsborough County Public Schools to offer its services to district employees.
“We have an open-door policy here, and there’s no sign-up required,” said Stuart. “This is just our way of saying, ‘Here’s a little something if you get in a bind. Feel free, anonymously or not, to come and shop in the pantry and take what you need at any time.’”
The pantry is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or by appointment. The downtown Tampa location is at 407 N. East Street.
Stuart said food can also be provided by her office at its satellite locations in Brandon (311 Pauls Drive, Suite 110) and Plant City (301 North Michigan Ave, Room 1071) locations.
So far, Feeding Tampa Bay has helped The Clerk’s Table serve 701 individuals and 344 children since it opened in Dec. 2021.
According to the Clerk’s Office, employees will be asked to fill out an online form (as discreetly as possible) that lists how many family members they have and the types of food desired. The office also provides pantry goods for anyone who visits the Edgecomb Courthouse to file for domestic violence injunctions and may need assistance.