ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Since the pandemic, the St. Petersburg Free Clinic has seen a 70 percent increase of families in need of free food from their pantry. However, picking up the food is only half the challenge.
Vehicle after vehicle, volunteers with St. Petersburg Free Clinic loaded food into the back of trunks outside First Baptist Church on Wednesday. The demand has been so great they began opening mobile drive through pantries.
“We’re seeing about 500 families a week who are new to us, who have never before seen us, never before needed us, and now they do and we are afraid that need isn’t going to go away any time soon,” said Shaina Bent, Director of Food Programs with St. Petersburg Free Clinic.
From chicken to a carton of eggs, the clinic offers a variety of foods but not all these families know how to prepare them.
“We were giving away whole chickens and several people at the drive though said, ‘don’t give me the chicken because I don’t know what to do with it,’” said Wendy Wesley, Manager of Health Education with St. Petersburg Free Clinic
That’s when Wesley stepped into the kitchen and started recording cooking classes, catered specifically for their clients, using the same food and ingredients that they pick up every week at the pantry.
“My goal is I want somebody to watch a video and go, ‘that’s it, that was easy,’ and I want them to get in and do it themselves,” said Wesley.
She said just because it came from a food pantry, doesn’t mean it can’t look and taste like it should be on the menu of a five star restaurant.
So far, Wesley has recorded 24 different videos since quarantine started. They can all be seen for free when you search the clinic on YouTube. She even takes requests.
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