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At Gibsonton Elementary: Bags of Christmas cheer, nourishment and relief

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image Photo Mitch Traphagen

Mosaic and Feeding America Tampa Bay team up to provide holiday meals for 700 families.

By Mitch Traphagen
 
It seems almost everyone looks forward to the winter holiday around Christmas. People take vacation days from work, the kids are gleefully out of school and after the hectic lead-up to the holidays, it is finally time to sit back and enjoy a day or three with family and friends.

But for a good many families, the holidays are also a source of painful, often hidden stress. When children are home from school, there may not be enough money to provide for the meals that they would otherwise receive. Simply put, without school lunches, some families won’t have enough money to feed their families, particularly a Christmas meal.

In Gibsonton, Mosaic and Feeding America Tampa Bay decided to do something about that problem. The Riverview company and the Tampa Bay area humanitarian organization teamed up to provide full holiday meals for 700 families with students at Gibsonton Elementary School on Thursday.

The bags of food contained all of the makings for a holiday dinner, including ham, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, green beans, sweet potatoes, stuffing and gravy.

“Without the continued assistance of Mosaic and Feeding America Tampa Bay, many of our families would go without a nutritious meal during the holiday season and every weekend of the year,” said Amber Statham, Principal at Gibsonton Elementary School.  “Mosaic has been our business partner for more than 20 years, and Mosaic employees are part of the Gibsonton family.  I cannot thank them enough for what they do for our school and our kids.”

With a per capita household income of just over $20,000, 84 percent of the Gibsonton area’s families are considered economically disadvantaged. According to Christine Smith of Mosaic, the company has set a goal to invest 1 percent of its annual profits in community organizations focused on hunger relief, agricultural research and development, water conservation and stewardship, and community enrichment.

As children rushed out of Gibsonton Elementary at 2:15 p.m. on Thursday, 20 Mosaic employees and volunteers from Feeding America Tampa Bay were waiting to hand off the bags containing holiday meals. Children smiled shyly and clutched the heavy bags close to their bodies, while parents greeted them, some certainly with a sense of relief that the Christmas meal was no longer in question.

“By providing this holiday meal to our neighbors at Gibsonton Elementary School, Mosaic is further reinforcing its mission to help the world grow the food it needs,” said Gary N. “Bo” Davis, Senior Vice President of Phosphate Operations at The Mosaic Company. “Our partnership with the school and Feeding America Tampa Bay is an effort to overcome hunger at a grassroots level and will hopefully make the holidays a little brighter for these families who struggle to put food on the table all year long.”

While the holidays are important and stressful, the helping hand is extended all year long. Mosaic also works with Feeding America Tampa Bay and Kiwanis to distribute backpacks of food each Friday to students to take home to ensure they have meals each weekend.

For information, visit www.feedingamericatampabay.org and www.mosaicco.com/Florida.

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