To stock the school food pantries, ABC Action News is collaborating with Feeding Tampa Bay and DFCU Financial. The initiative's purpose is to assist local families and students in obtaining the meals they require to succeed this school year.
ABC Action News went to both the Feeding Tampa Bay warehouse and a local school with a pantry that our campaign is working to fill to show our viewers how their donations end up in the 77 school food pantries across the Tampa Bay area.
In the warehouse, the day began bright and early. At Feeding Tampa Bay, Jonathan Odermatt is the program's principal driver. He loads food pallets and boxes onto his vehicle. Odermatt is a member of the team that delivers food to over 75 school food pantries in the Tampa Bay area.
"Are you seeing how great the need is as you speak with these families?" "What are you hearing from those families?" St. Germain inquired.
"I understand the need. "Some of them provide recipes, while others say their children simply did not have enough until this pantry was implemented," Odermatt explained.
"And hearing that... how does it make you feel knowing you're the one bringing the food from the warehouse?" St. Germain stated.
"It makes me feel honored, absolutely," Odermatt remarked.
The food is transported from the warehouse to IDEA Public Schools' Victory Campus school food pantry.
"They call me Coach T... and the kids call me the GOAT," Coach T explained.
"You have to understand that these kids are maturing. Some of them lack a role model. We are the example. "Once we walk in the door, these kids see us for eight hours a day," Coach T explained.
At IDEA Victory, the school food pantry is known as "Coach T's Food Pantry."
"I'm the only one. "I run it because I like to be on "T" with this," Coach T explained.
This pantry is open during the summer and school year. Coach T said she takes delight in running the pantry like a grocery shop for the students.
"It's difficult for anyone to receive help. The primary thing that has affected me is that my parents do not have it. "Some parents come here and say, 'Thank God,' because I don't have it," Coach T explained.
The boxes include everything from meat and vegetables to kid-friendly treats.
"[What is your favorite pantry item to choose from?]" Cereal. [What is your favorite cereal?] Deshay, an incoming eighth-grader at IDEA, said, "Chex."
Students are aware of and comprehend the value of the pantry.
"The food is nice - cereal, oatmeal, and the like. Also, people can eat whenever they want, and if they become hungry, they can acquire food and not go hungry," Deshay explained.
Deshay and her aunt would like to thank everyone in the Tampa Bay region who has contributed to our "Pack the Pantries" program.
Coach T stated that almost 100 parents visit the school food pantry in two days, making it an invaluable resource for families.
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