With increased demand and regular sources of food unable to meet requests, the St. Joseph Food Pantry in Bradenton has been having to find creative ways to get the word out that they need donations.
Ellen Staubach, a Food Pantry Board member, said an appeal in mid-March helped fill in the gap for the immediate increase in demand once the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy started being felt. Since early March, demand has steadily increased as many people were thrown out of work. Before the pandemic, 1,888 individuals and families visited the food pantry each month. In the past seven weeks, nearly 500 new individuals and families have registered for assistance.
“We were so amazed at how many of our donors not only came through but also spread the word to organizations such as Thunder Road and Knights of Columbus as well as many others,” said Staubach about the response to the appeal for food in March. “We made it through March and have enough to feed all those coming in through April.”
Bishop Frank J. Dewane visited the food pantry on April 23, 2020, receiving a tour and learning about the demand the pantry has been facing and the efforts to help as many people with whatever food is available.
Feeding Tampa Bay set up a mobile pantry in the parking lot one day a week, which is helping to a point, but one normal source of food, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Stamp Out Hunger food drive, has been indefinitely postponed.
“That food drive generally provided us with two to three months of food,” Staubach explained. “We hoped that this drive would carry us through until our suppliers would be able to once again take our orders.”
A new supplier, which unfortunately charges more, has been able to meet short-term needs, but that will only be sustainable if monetary donations increase. A regional giving challenge in late April was expected to help, but more assistance is needed as the demand continues to grow.
If someone would like to make a donation, please by visit https://www.sjcfl.org/Online-Giving and click on “Giving Opportunities” to donate directly to the pantry, or mail a check to the St. Joseph Food Pantry, 2704 33rd Ave W., Bradenton, FL 34205. Donors can also bring food such as canned corn, canned green beans, 1lb box spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, boxed macaroni and cheese, cheese, cereal, as well as peanut butter and jelly. Volunteers are always welcome. For more information, call 941-756-3732 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.