PSTA joins fight against hunger in Pinellas County

Residents line up July 30 to “shop” at the Feeding Tampa Bay mobile pantry at the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s staff parking lot in St. Petersburg. Food was distributed to more than 300 people in two hours.

ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority hosted a Feeding Tampa Bay mobile food pantry in its staff parking lot July 30, distributing food to more than 300 people in just two hours.

The 2019 Leadership PSTA class led the event with the support of the Feeding Tampa Bay team.

Officials say that more than 135,000 county residents struggle with food insecurity. To address this challenge, PSTA and Feeding Tampa Bay are teaming up to organize a series of creative events to reach families in need.

The Feeding Tampa Bay mobile pantry is a refrigerated truck that delivers shelf stable foods, dairy, meats, prepared meals and fresh produce at no charge to our Tampa Bay neighbors in need.

There is no charge, no qualifications or requests made with each attendee encouraged to “shop” for what is best served in their home. The goal is to provide nutritious foods for our neighbors in need with dignity and respect.

“At PSTA we are driven to make a difference in the lives of the people we serve. As a transportation agency, we interact with our community on a daily basis as we take riders to where they need to be. We often hear and see their struggles firsthand, and are excited to have this opportunity to connect our passengers with resources to live healthier, happier lives,” said PSTA CEO Brad Miller said.

PSTA promoted this opportunity heavily throughout bus routes and sent riders a text message to let them know about the mobile food pantry event. The first 20 guests received a free, portable shopping cart to take on buses (one per household). Pantry shoppers also received branded tote bags to carry home food (two per person).

“We couldn’t be more thrilled about having PSTA as a partner in our mission to create a hunger-free Tampa Bay. We know that much of our success depends on support from strong and thoughtful organizations in our community,” said Kelley Sims, Feeding Tampa Bay’s chief development officer. “The first step is giving those in need convenient access to healthy food options, that begins today. Together, we have the opportunity to reach thousands of children, seniors, and families in Pinellas County and place a nutritious meal on their table.”

Plans are in the works to schedule three additional Feeding Tampa Bay mobile food pantries at bus stop locations in 2019.