Meet Rosa Lopez — Just passing it forward

Rosa is one of a handful of volunteers charged with welcoming our clients and registering them for food when they come to Our Lady’s Pantry on Saturday mornings.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Feeding Tampa Bay require Our Lady’s Pantry to keep records of our clients.

“But this is good,” says Rosa, “because by registering folks, we learn the size of their families.  And some families are large. So we can give them more food.

“I have been volunteering here for about six years,” she says.

Woman with green shirt, putting on her glasses

“I started working here about the same time I started coming for food.  Making ends meet was getting difficult with the cost of living increasing all the time,” she says.  “Getting some groceries every two weeks has eased my anxiety about having enough to feed my family.  My grandson is living with me at this time.”

After Pantry clients sign in, Rosa gives them a different color ticket related to how many family members will enjoy the food.  The tickets are placed on the windshield of their car.   Different color tickets tell those putting food in our clients’ cars how many groceries to include for that client.

“One large coming in,” someone calls from the porch, noting the color of the ticket on the windshield of the car now approaching the porch, where the food is distributed.  The Pantry team is ready, grabbing extra big bags of produce, cereal, eggs, bread, and meats for the large family approaching the porch.

According to Rosa, everyone who works here is nice and friendly.

“When our clients come and need help of some kind, we tell them where to go,” Rosa adds.  “We do our best.  We never say ‘No.’   If someone comes and is not registered to get a big box of food, we give them a bag of food, instead.  No one goes away without food.

“Even our snowbirds are dedicated to us,” she says.  “They come to Florida to relax, but then they still come in and work and are very friendly.

“All of us here at Our Lady’s Pantry appreciate the financial support of the donations we receive from individuals and various non-profits,” says Rosa.  “The food we are able to purchase for these gifts will be enjoyed by many hundreds of men, women, and children in our community.”