Last week, Feeding Tampa Bay, the largest food rescue and distribution organization in West Central Florida, announced it has served 397,522,938 meals within Tampa Bay's 10 county regions since the organization started 35 years ago. Across the area served, 700,000 people do not know when they will get their next meal. To combat this, Feeding Tampa Bay has offered nourishment to these hard-working residents and their families by sourcing and supplying food to more than 550 agency partners since 1982.
“Food isn’t just sustenance – it’s an opportunity to show someone just how deeply you care for them,” said Thomas Mantz, Executive Director of Feeding Tampa Bay, “Just like food brings folks together around a table, we bring people together around a cause.”
Influencers like Jenna Nelson, Executive Vice President of Human Resources at Sykes Enterprises and Todd Wickner, current FTB Board Chair and retired founder of Spectra, both serve on the Feeding Tampa Bay Board and were in attendance, sharing their own experiences with Feeding Tampa Bay and the positive impact it has on our local communities.
“In its entirety, Feeding Tampa Bay does more than serve food to those who need it,” said Wickner. “This organization provides hope and healthier lifestyles. Those who serve with Feeding Tampa Bay lift up the community, and I’m honored to serve alongside them as Board Chair.”
Thomas Mantz poses with Jenna Nelson
A special moment occurred when Michael Solomon, Feeding Tampa Bay's original founder, spoke at the event. He commended Thomas Mantz's leadership and pushed for the organization to keep assisting the hungry population while remaining true to its core values. Solomon also shared what it was like to create what was then-called The Divine Providence Food Bank and how appreciative he is for the growth that has taken place over these 35 years.
“When we founded Divine Providence Food Bank, we were in fact worried about the providence,” said Solomon. “But now, 35 years later, it amazes me how much passion there is to make sure everyone in our communities gets a meal and no person goes hungry. There is certainly no lack of provision.”
More than 200 people attended the food bank’s celebration including community partners and leaders. Guests received exclusive tours of the Feeding Tampa Bay warehouse to get a closer look at what the organization does daily to help combat hunger. Tour stops included information about the Winn-Dixie Charity Market, the volunteer sorting stations and its programs including mobile food pantries, child hunger initiatives, and the innovative My Mobile Market.
Feeding Tampa Bay is able to deliver 10 meals for every $1 donated due to its efficient operations model, and serves people of all backgrounds. Through a deep reach into many aspects of life in the area, and 35 years of supreme service, the organization is able to bring more than food to the tables of those in need.
“Our mission is to provide health,” said Mantz. “Food is simply the vehicle by which we do that.”