Reach St. Pete launches new mobile food pantry out of an old PSTA bus

Feb. 24 marks the debut of the pop-up pantry, which will serve food insecure folks throughout Pinellas County.

click to enlarge PSTA donates a decommissioned bus to Reach St. Pete. - REACH ST. PETE / FACEBOOK
Reach St. Pete / Facebook
PSTA donates a decommissioned bus to Reach St. Pete.
There are dozens of Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority ( PSTA ) buses transporting residents throughout Pinellas County, but Reach St. Pete’s roughly 30-foot bus is providing another crucial service to low income folks, starting this week.

The nonprofit organization will launch its mobile food pantry out of a refurbished PTSA bus this Thursday, beginning its mission of delivering free food distribution throughout St. Petersburg and beyond.

The bus—which was donated from PSTA last year—will distribute food every second and fourth Thursday of the month, from noon-6 p.m.

The five different locations for Reach St. Pete's food bus include:
  • Enoch Davis Center  111 18th Ave. S, St. Petersburg
  • Campbell Park Recreation Center 601 14th St. S, St. Petersburg
  • SPC Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr. Midtown Center 1300 22nd St. S, St. Petersburg
  • Pinellas Hope 5726 126th Ave.  N, Clearwater
  • Northside Baptist Church 6000  38th Ave. N, St. Petersburg
According to a representative from the organization, the five locations might change depending on how the first six months of food distribution goes.

The mobile pantry will serve everything from fresh produce and dairy products to non-perishable goods like soups, pasta, and hygiene products—and everything will be completely free, although there will be some limitations to how much you can take.
There are various areas in Pinellas County that are considered food deserts, in which residents cannot access fresh produce and nutritional food.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Access Research Atlas, there are multiple parts of Pinellas County—including south St. Pete and some parts of Pinellas Park—in which residents cannot access fresh food due to a variety of socio-economic reasons.

Other organizations in Pinellas County that work on bridging the gap between underserved residents and nutritious food include St. Pete Youth Farm, St. Pete Free Clinic and Feeding Tampa Bay, while  full list of food pantries in Pinellas County can be found at foodpantries.org.

Reach St. Pete is a nonprofit that helps those experiencing homelessness in Pinellas County by providing food, hygiene products, clothing, billing and housing assistance to folks in need. The organization works closely with churches, other nonprofits, local businesses and various corporate sponsors to help bridge the gap between people and the resources they desperately need.

The sponsor for Reach St. Pete’s new mobile food pantry is the Molina Healthcare Charitable Foundation, which will present a $30,000 donation at Thursday’s ribbon cutting ceremony.

Reach St. Pete is in a constant search for volunteers to help them stock and clean the new pantry— as well as organize clothes at its warehouse, work community pop-ups and other charitable events.

Reach has many different volunteer slots that can be found via reachstpete.org.