By Kevin Brady
Perhaps you went a little hog wild during that baked bean sale last month. Or maybe you are a doomsday prepper who has enough rice and beans stored in that secret underground bunker to feed a small army for the next decade.
Either way, Feed the Bay, an all-volunteer effort that aims to restock the shelves of area food banks, wants your food this weekend.
More than 30 local churches, including several in South County, are asking their parishioners to think about the hungry when they shop Sunday, March 23. Organizers hope to raise more than 150,000 pounds of food for the effort, with help from Publix, Sweetbay and Walgreens.
There has been an increase in the number of the hungry in the South County community over the last few years, said Bill Cruz Jr., executive director of Good Samaritan Mission, which is participating in Feed the Bay.
“The demand is greater than the supply,” he said, “so we count and rely on events like Feed the Bay to meet the needs of folks coming in for food.”
Started by Bay Life Church in Brandon in 2006 when churchgoers were asked to go to supermarkets with pre-printed grocery lists, Feed the Bay has grown to 32 local churches and 17 food agencies that collected 160,049 pounds of food and store gift cards last year.
Among the groups participating in this year’s drive are the Beth-El Farm Workers Ministry in Wimauma, Good Samaritan Mission and the Emergency Help Care Organization, or ECHO, in Brandon, which also serves families in South County.
For more information, visit www.feedthebay.org.
Among the churches participating this year are:
Ahava Baptist Church, Alafia Baptist Church, Bay Life Church, Bell Shoals Baptist – Apollo Beach Campus, Bell Shoals Baptist – Brandon Campus, Brandon Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Centerpoint Church, Cornerstone Baptist Church, First Baptist Church of Brandon, First Baptist Church Dover, First Baptist Church Midway, First Baptist Church Plant City, First Baptist Church Tampa, First Baptist Church Temple Terrace, First Presbyterian Church of Brandon and First United Methodist Church of Brandon.
Also, Grace Community UMC, Holy Innocent’s Episcopal Church, Hope Cumberland Presbyterian, Jesus Church, Journey Church of Brandon, Knights Baptist Church, Liberty Southern Baptist Church, Manhattan Baptist Church, Nativity Catholic Church, New Testament Church, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Rivers of Life, Saint John the Divine Episcopal Church, South Shore UMC, St. Andrew UMC, True Sanctuary of Praise and Westtown Church.
The charitable effort comes on the heels of last month’s Have a Heart Caring Castle food drive, which raised 2,600 pounds of food for six South County food banks. The Caring Castle was sponsored by Sun City Center’s JSA Medical Group with The Observer News, The SCC Observer and The Current backing the drive.