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Feeding Tampa Bay, school food pantries sending food-insecure families home with groceries

Posted at 6:19 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 18:19:45-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With spring break right around the corner, and threats of school closures across the nation, food insecure families here in Tampa Bay are stretching resources thin to feed their children.

To help out, local schools and Feeding Tampa Bay are working together to make sure none of those families go hungry.

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Lakewood High School in St. Pete is one of the schools that has teamed up with Feeding Tampa Bay to create an on-campus food pantry.

“Usually on a Friday afternoon we have about 80 students coming through,” said Erika Miller, an instructor at Lakewood High School who works in the food pantry.

Students pick up groceries from the food pantry to help them and their families get through the weekend.

“I started going to the pantry last year, I had lost about eight pounds in less than a week,” said Essex Potts, a student who uses the services of the food pantry.

Essex’s family is one of nearly 700,000 food insecure families in Tampa Bay. Food insecure means you have an ongoing lack of access to food.

Lakewood High School is one of nearly 40 schools teaming up with Feeding Tampa Bay to get food pantries into schools.

“This week, we’ve opened up every day because we’re going on spring break,” said Miller.

Due to spring break being extended for students across Tampa Bay, Feeding Tampa Bay is ramping up production, expecting even more families will need some help.

“When you have families who would normally not need our services because their economics are safe, if they don’t have income, if they have greater expenses, they may need our services too,” said Thomas Mantz, President and CEO of Feeding Tampa Bay.

But as always, Feeding Tampa Bay could use a little help from you.

“Prepared? Yes. Do we need additional resources? Yes,” said Mantz.

For ways to volunteer, or donate to Feeding Tampa Bay, and help out families in 10 counties across the Tampa Bay area, click here.