On the road again . . .

For many of our neighbors burdened by poverty, anxiety, and sometimes illness, Our Lady of Guadalupe Food Pantry has been a sanctuary of sorts, a place of hope, reminding them on Saturday mornings that they are not alone.  The Pantry has been able, at least, to lessen the worry about the source of one’s next meal.

Thanks to the kindness of the big checks many of you have sent, along with the generosity of markets, wholesalers, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we have had plenty food to share on Saturday mornings so far.  In fact, our trucks and cars are on the road almost every day picking up food.

“We have been keeping our drivers busy,” says Pantry director Tom Bullaro. “We pick up food regularly from Feeding Tampa Bay, as well as the Aldi’s and Publix in both Sun City Center and Riverview.  We pick up from Save-a-Lot, Big Lots, Winn-Dixie, and CostCo as well.  Aldi’s, in particular, has been fantastic.”

Steve Bartlett, who drives one of the Pantry trucks, along with Rod Justus, Dave Swaim, Jerry Reynolds, and Jim Mecsko, points to some of the amazing donations of nutritious fruits and vegetables we have been receiving almost every week.

“One such donation, for example, has been huge boxes of produce that included five pounds of potatoes, 10 pounds of apples, and 10 pounds of pears,” he says.  “We were able to give a big box to each client who came that week.”

According to Bullaro, the pantries are sharing their surplus as well.  In recent weeks, Our Lady’s Pantry has received food from St. Anne’s, St. Stephen’s, and Beth-El.   All in all, some of this surplus included fresh produce and eggs, as well as meat and poultry — including turkeys one week for our largest families!

But that’s not all, says Bullaro.  “About two months ago we received a call from Bordens Dairy Co. of Florida who offered us fresh milk!  Since then we have been picking up a stunning 800 gallons of fresh milk (four palettes) every week,” he says.

“We pick it up at the Kelly Warehouse in Tampa.  We deliver one palette to St. Anne’s, two palettes to Beth-El, and one palette is for us.

“None of this would be possible, of course, were it not for our amazing helpers — our truck drivers named above but also Alice White, Joan Komorowski, Edie Sommer, Dick Gibbs, and Bob Hacking, who pick up food in their cars.  And then there are all those who work on site, unpacking all this food and then packing it up again to share with our clients on Saturday.  They are our food heroes.

“Without all their effort — and the continued support of our neighbors — we could not exist,” says Bullaro.  “We thank each of you for your care of us.”

New drivers are always needed to help with all this work.  If you would like more information, kindly contact Tom Bullaro at:  tom@ourladyspantry.com or (813) 633-2384.