The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted families around the world and here in Tampa Bay in many different ways. There’s the saying that we’re all in the same storm, but not in the same boat. For many parents, the storm has come in a wave of job loss which has lead to the uncertainty of where their family’s next meal will come from.
We recently caught up with Shannon Hannon Oliviero of Feeding Tampa Bay to find out how they are helping families navigate these uncertain waters and how your family can help.
The pandemic has no doubt altered all of our lives. How has it impacted Feeding Tampa Bay and those you serve?
Shannon: At Feeding Tampa Bay we saw 650,000 in our care before the pandemic began. Currently we have 1.7 million who depend on us throughout the 10 counties that we serve. Because no one should go hungry.
How have you all made the pandemic pivot so many businesses and non-profits have found themselves making?
Shannon: Our preferred distribution model is choice or a “shopping experience,” giving the opportunity to choose the foods that best fit our guest families just like you and I do when we choose groceries. Of course, due to safety concerns, we’ve had to adjust to a drive-thru experience where volunteers place an assortment of shelf stable, fresh produce, protein and dairy items in the trunk of each guest’s car, per adult.
What are some of the greatest needs in our community right now?
Shannon: We are providing 2 million meals weekly, double the amount we were serving pre-pandemic, and see that number remaining consistent. Many are families visiting one of our drive-thru pantries for the first time, never imagining themselves experiencing food insecurity. For those who can, we could use donations. At Feeding Tampa Bay, we can maximize every dollar to best serve our struggling neighbors. feedingtampabay.org/donate
How can local families help? Can kids and adults still volunteer to sort food?
Shannon: Volunteers are needed at our warehouse, in addition to out in the community at our many pantries throughout our 10-county region. Families are welcome to join our Emergency Volunteer Response Team at feedingtampabay.org/volunteer.
*There is no minimum age for Warehouse Food Sorting volunteer hours, but it’s best for kids ages 5 and older.
The holidays are also coming up. What do you anticipate the need being like this year?
Shannon: We are prepared to serve much like we are currently with our programs and nearly 500 distribution partners. As long as our neighbors struggle with food insecurity, Feeding Tampa Bay will continue to lean in and make certain healthy food is available for our neighbors in need.
Do you need help or know someone who does? Visit: feedingtampabay.org/findfood
Learn more about Feeding Tampa Bay:
- 813.254.1190 | feedingtampabay.org
- @FeedingTampaBay (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & LinkedIn)
- Podcast: Stick a Fork in It! on all platforms
Please check and follow all frequently, they are updated regularly.
Originally published in the September 2020 edition of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.