Strawberries are in season! And with strawberries, as well as an abundance of other wonderful foods grown locally, kindhearted individuals sometimes make homemade treats, especially for folks who come to the Pantry each week.
“Unfortunately, the Pantry is unable to accept these generous gifts intended for our clients,” says director Tom Bullaro.
Jayci Peters, chief communications and culture officer at Feeding Tampa Bay (FTB) — where the Pantry purchases our food — points out that FTB provides more than 4.5 million meals every month. This food is distributed to more than 600,000 individuals through a network of partners like Our Lady's Pantry, as well as through various direct distribution programs.
“With this expansive reach comes responsibility, because we believe that every person who comes to us for a meal deserves food that is safe for them and their families. Food safety is foundational to our efforts to alleviate hunger. As part of the Feeding America network of food relief, we are dedicated to food safety standards, because we are dedicated to the individuals and families we serve.”
Bullaro points out that the food the Pantry receives from Feeding Tampa Bay is believed safe and is protected under the umbrella of the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. This Act encourages the donation and distribution of wholesome food, instead of throwing it away, if the food is suitable for consumption. This means the food — by its nature, age, packaging, and condition — is suitable to be consumed by those in need.
But multiple food safety concerns exist with foods prepared in home kitchens, Bullaro adds. In addition, the public must have commercially-packaged foods with expiration dates on all they receive — along with an ingredients label — due to the sensitivity around food allergies.
“Because of these concerns, food pantries are unable to share the beautiful homemade foods you thoughtfully prepare for our clients,” says Bullaro. “We thank you for your kindness. We are happy to accept gifts of non-perishable foods, of course, or any monies you wish to donate towards our mission. For every dollar you donate, in fact, we can purchase $5 worth of groceries at Feeding Tampa Bay, stretching your food dollars dramatically.”