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America’s Second Harvest Delivers Millions of Meals From Tampa Bay Food Bank
America’s Second Harvest of Tampa Bay delivers almost 10 million meals to local hungry people from their Tampa Bay Food Bank.
By: Americas Second Harvest
According to Willene Hayward, Volunteer Manager at America’s Second Harvest ((http://www.a2htampabay.org)
“I think we were put here to help each other. I like helping people,” said Willene, who has recently celebrated her 11th year at America’s Second Harvest of Tampa Bay. “Lots of people think of the holidays as the time to come out and help, but hunger is 365 days a year. That’s when we need you. Not just on the holidays,” concludes Willene.
40,000 families in Tampa and its surrounding communities do not have enough food to eat on a daily basis. Over 8 percent of households in Pinellas County, and 9 percent of households in Pasco County are in this same unhappy condition.
It may come as a surprise to some that only 12 percent of those who receive food from the America’s Second Harvest Food Bank are homeless. So, while there are those who are so destitute they actually sleep on the street, an overwhelming 88 percent of those hungry mouths could be the children who are class with your sons and daughters, may be seated near you in church, or may be that very average looking person you passed walking down the street.
There is no way this could all be managed by the 20 employees at America’s Second Harvest Food Bank without the goodwill of the many donors and volunteers, according to Willene. Not a cent of government money is spent to support the operation.
There are large food processors who donate food. Like Tropicana who donated over 3,600 cartons of juice or the United Egg Producers who donated 122,000 dozen eggs this Easter for the second year.
A lot of the food donations are overstocked or cosmetically damaged items that are salvaged from supermarket reclamation centers. There is nothing wrong with the food, but maybe there is a dent in the can so it can’t be sold. Or maybe the item is past the “BEST USED BY…” date but it is still good for some weeks yet. Expiration dates are carefully screened by volunteers at the Food Bank to ensure the food quality is still good and the food is safe before it is distributed.
“This food would all go into a landfill if it didn’t go into the Food Bank,” said Mark Sutherland, Resources Development Manager of America’s Second Harvest of Tampa Bay.
Additionally, every month, there is an average of 500 local volunteers who help out at the Food Bank. These volunteers come from a variety of areas such as employees from companies like Sykes, Auto Trader and New York Life. Individuals sentenced by the Courts to do community work can volunteer at the Food Bank. Food stamp recipients are required to put in a certain number of volunteer hours at the Food Bank in order to be eligible for the food stamp program. And churches and schools participate, such as the Clearwater based Washburn Academy who sends their students to help out as part of the Volunteer Ministers Program of the Church of Scientology (www.volunteerministers.org)
“I love doing it because I am helping the community,” said 16 yr old Bryant Guzman, a senior at Washburn Academy, who was sorting through enormous bins of canned food, weeding out those products beyond the expiration.
Neil Washburn, a teacher at the Academy and son of the founder, explained they have the students participate with the Volunteer Ministers at the Food Bank as it gets them thinking about the community.
“We want to teach our students that you can’t complain about things when you aren’t doing something about them. They are members of the community and that means they are responsible for it. If there is a problem, it is their problem,” Washburn said. “We want them to learn that there is something they can do about it.”
Jesuit High School and Berkley Prep School also send students to volunteer at the Food Bank. Members of the Grace Family Church can be found there once a month.
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America's Second Harvest of Tampa Bay (http://www.a2htampabay.org) is an Affiliate Member of the national America's Second Harvest food bank network serving 10 counties in west central Florida. Founded in 1982, they have processed and distributed 90 million pounds of safe and nutritious surplus food to those who need it most. Through our combined efforts with over 300 partner charities and churches, America’s Second Harvest of Tampa Bay currently distributes enough food in a single week to provide over 50,000 meals. For more information visit http://www.a2htampabay.org/
Page Updated Last on: Jul 14, 2009