Helping Feed Tampa Bay

If you read our blog at all, you might have realized we spend a lot of time in our community. This November, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, we partnered with Feeding America Tampa Bay to help fight the growing hunger crisis in West Central Florida. This 10-county service area contains Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Sumter, Highlands, Hardee and Manatee counties.

Our honorary Feeding America team.

Our honorary Feeding America Tampa Bay team.

Feeding America is the largest domestic hunger relief organization in the country, consisting of a network of 200 food banks. As one of those food banks, FATB is a resource to 600 approved charities that run some form of a feeding program, helping to provide meals to more than 400,000 people in West Central Florida. These charities include soup kitchens, food pantries, emergency shelters and Kids’ Cafe sites.

There are 46,000 agencies in the FA network, operating 58,000 food programs that serve 46.5 million people in the U.S. each year. The majority provide groceries, though some provide both meals and groceries. 51 percent of these programs rely entirely on volunteers, so we were honored to join a group of wonderful individuals in order to assist this incredible organization in its mission.

Everyone hard at work.

Everyone hard at work.

Our crew teamed up with Feeding America staff and volunteers from Willis S. Johns Recreation Center in St. Petersburg to sort and pack an array of items that FATB will distribute to its charities and agencies. FATB also allows for nonprofits to come “grocery shop” in the warehouse. The organizations are allowed to enter the warehouse, select what they need in a two-hour period, and then take them back to provide for those who are part of their organization. To assist with this program, our duties included checking expiration dates, trashing unusable items, and organizing completed packages. We also ran the cardboard compactor!

Nitro team with the cardboard compacter... Maybe we should keep our day jobs!

Nitro team with the cardboard compactor… Maybe we should keep our day jobs!

The volunteers sorted through a multitude of boxes to pick out and organize items into 22 different categories such as baking items, canned vegetables, bottled beverages, snack foods, etc. After three hours of sorting, packing and stacking, we had packaged 8,858 pounds of food and nonfood items to be delivered to those in need. Nice job, everyone!

Lots of work to be done!

Lots of work to be done!

This year, FATB earned some much-deserved special recognition in the community. As part of its ?Be More Awards? series, WEDU PBS awarded FATB the title of Nonprofit Organization of the Year for its hard work and dedication to relieving hunger in West Central Florida. Way to go, FATB!

If you?re in the Tampa Bay Area and would like to get involved with Feeding America, click here to learn more about how to help. If you are interested in volunteering, donating or hosting a food drive but are not in the Tampa Bay Area, visit this page to find a food bank near you.

We hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving! What are YOU thankful for this year?