TIA's food donation program earning top honors

TAMPA, Florida - On average, 46,000 passengers travel through Tampa International Airport every day, and all those people eat a lot of food.

To make sure shelves are full, the airport's food vender, HMS Host, makes 10 to 15 percent more food then they'll actually sell and as of a few years ago, whatever was left at the end of the day went in the trash.

"We threw it away," said Perry Kranias, the Food and Beverage Director for HMS Host at Tampa International Airport.

Even though these freshly made meals are good for five to seven days, much of this food was going to waste.

"It bothered us. It bothered us quite a bit and we did some research and we wanted to change that," said Kranias.

So in 2010,HMS Host partnered for the first time with Feeding America Tampa Bay.

"Hunger doesn't take a day off so neither can we," said volunteer Tim Suida of the Suncoast Haven of Rest Rescue Mission, one of the many charities benefiting from all the donated food. "All our people are volunteers but the smiles on the people's faces at the end of the day keeps us coming back for more each and every day."

Much of the food Suida collects every morning will end up by afternoon with some of Tampa Bay's estimated 100,000 food-insecure kids. The rest will go to local food banks or to homeless shelters like Pinellas Hope.

"It's like, 'Wow!' Because believe me, homeless people are used to just getting peanut butter and jelly. And when they get something special like this, they are very, very grateful," said Suida.

Tampa International's program is now serving as a blueprint for airports across the country. HMS Host is hoping to donate their one millionth meal by Christmas.

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