Where to get a free meal and other assistance in Tampa Bay

Kitchens and food banks are serving meals throughout the Tampa Bay area.

click to enlarge A tree wrapped in a downed power line the day after Hurricane Ian passed Tampa. - Justin Garcia
Justin Garcia
A tree wrapped in a downed power line the day after Hurricane Ian passed Tampa.

In the wake of Hurricane Ian, thousands of Tampa Bay residents have lost power. Without refrigeration, food goes bad, and many people will find themselves hungry.

Fortunately, there are several groups making efforts to feed those in need.

In Tampa, Metropolitan Ministries (MM) has teamed up with some world class names to feed people today and over the weekend.

"The World Central Kitchen (WCK) team along with the Metropolitan Ministries kitchen team and scores of volunteers are ready to prepare and distribute meals for people in dire need starting tomorrow and over the weekend in the wake of Hurricane Ian," MM wrote in a press release. "One special volunteer is Thaddeus Bullard aka WWE Global Ambassador Titus O’Neil."

O'Neil will be joined by local restauranter and co-founder of Next Level Brands Hospitality, Jeff Gigante, philanthropist Tony March, and "a small army of local volunteers."

The WCK team aims to prepare 15,000 hot meals and 10,000 cold meals using MM's commercial kitchen.

Many of the meals will be delivered to places south of Tampa, but the WCK team will also help support  local hunger relief efforts while they are here.

In addition, MM will be providing emergency supplies in a drive through, including non-perishable food, bagged lunches, bottled water and power for phone charging.

Help navigating shelter, housing assistance, financial assistance and other resources will resume next week during normal business hours.

MM is also calling for volunteers to help distribute the meals. 

"In the wake of Hurricane Ian, there is a huge need for hunger and storm relief for our neighbors," MM wrote on Facebook. "With this increased need for services, comes an increased need for volunteers."

The group shared a signup link for those who want to help give people hot meals locally.

MM is also accepting donations of non-perishable food items and bottled water at the following Family Support Center locations:
  • Downtown Tampa 2301 N Tampa St.
  • West Pasco 3214 US-19, Holiday
The announcement of relief from MM comes the day after Mutual Aid Disaster Relief set up a hub at Waters Avenue Church in Tampa that will provide to people locally, and also bring supplies to the Fort Myers area. Today, a relief trip was already sent to the Sarasota area, with more trips planned in the coming days. Tampa Food Not Bombs is also delivering meals to communities in need.

In St. Petersburg, a drive through kitchen is open from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. today. Jared's Food Bank, located at  3115 44th Ave N, will be providing fresh produce, meats, and food staples for any Pinellas County resident in need.

If you lost power in St. Petersburg and are needing a place to charge your cell phone, the University Student Center-USF St. Petersburg is open to the public 12-8 p.m. at 200 6th Ave S St. Pete. Coffee, water, fruit, snacks, and electricity will also be available.

This story will be updated as more relief centers are brought to our attention. Feel free to contact us with any relief information that should be shared.

About The Author

Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia previously wrote for the USA Today Network, The Economic Hardship Reporting Project, Scalawag Magazine, and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 

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