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In the Tampa Bay area, the need for food during the holiday season is greater than ever before

Local food banks serving the Tampa Bay area explained during the pandemic more people were in need of food assistance and that hasn't changed.

TAMPA, Fla — Local food banks serving the Tampa Bay area said the need for food assistance is greater than ever before.

Metropolitan Ministries feeds tens of thousands of people in the region, serving six counties. To illustrate the growing need, officials said during a typical holiday season, they feed an average of 22,000 families. Last year at the height of the pandemic, they served more than 40,000 families - so about double than the average. 

This holiday season, it will be even more. Officials project there will be 42,000 families in need. “It takes 21,000 volunteers and a million pounds of food and 50,000 toys to meet that need of 42,000 families, and we are serving in six counties," Justine Burke, vice president of Metropolitan Ministries explained. 

Burke said the need continues to increase as organizations are seeing people financially struggling. 

“They have to pay their rent so they can keep a roof over their head and then they start to go without other things," Burke stated.

All Faiths Food Bank said they continue to see thousands in need as well.

“Not surprisingly, we are still seeing that our community is still recovering from the pandemic," the CEO of All Faiths Food Bank, Sandra Frank stated.

Frank said at the height of the pandemic in 2020, they saw a 60 percent increase in the number of people needing assistance. In 2021, they saw a 40 percent increase from 2019. The need is still there, especially during the holidays. 

“Like any storm, like any emergency, you weather the initial impact of it, and then it takes a great time to get back to where we were," Frank explained.

Frank believes if things continue how they are, by the end of 2022, the need should decrease. 

Do you want to help? Here's how:

Monetary donations

- Metropolitan Ministries click here to make a donation 

- Feeding Tampa Bay click here to make a donation

 - All Faiths Food Bank click here to make a donation

Volunteer your time

- Metropolitan Ministries click here to volunteer 

- Feeding Tampa Bay click here to volunteer

 - All Faiths Food Bank click here to volunteer 

If you are in need, visit the following organizations to learn where you can find help:

- Metropolitan Ministries

- Feeding Tampa Bay

- All Faiths Food Bank