Concerns over changes in Tampa food bank distribution

TAMPA, FL (WFLA)- “Feeding America Tampa Bay” has been helping put food on the table for those in need for years. But there are concerns that changes have made it more difficult for food pantries to get that food into the hands of those who need it the most. Each week, thousands of pounds of food leave the “Feeding America” warehouse in Tampa, eventually headed to food pantry’s all over the bay-area.

But the operators of a Shady Hills church food pantry are concerned, after a “Feeding America” food bank in Land O’ Lakes stopped offering food. Marie Chancey is with Shady Hills United Methodist church “We have cut back from giving 6-7 days worth of food to now maybe 3-4 days worth of food.”

The head of “Feeding America Tampa Bay” said the perishable food needs to get out faster. Thomas Mantz with “Feeding America Tampa Bay said, “we deliver food directly to our agency partners or we set up our partners with a grocery store and then they become self sufficient in picking up their own food.”

Members of the different food pantries can also travel to “Feeding America’s” Tampa warehouse. But Chancey claims that’s just too difficult for some volunteers, many of whom are seniors. Chancey added, “we need a Pasco county centralized drop off, not running to all these grocery stores, all these different pick-ups, it is just too hard on us.”

“Feeding America” distributes millions of pounds of food, which is then passed on to those in need. Despite the changes, Chancey says, “we are willing to do what we need to do to feed the poor and it is so frustrating that our food service is either cut down or cut off.” Chancey went on to say, her pantry and most others don’t have the equipment to store a month’s worth of food, which is why they relied on the Pasco county location for weekly pick-ups.

But Mantz added, “there are always concerns when we change and we understand that, we are not leaving Pasco and we are not leaving them, we have the same commitment to the county that we have already had.” Mantz added “Feeding America Tampa Bay” has used the same distribution model in Pinellas county for 2 years, and he’s confident it will work well in Pasco, once the food pantry’s get used to the new system.

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