New Catholic Food Bank Opens to Serve the Hungry in Hillsborough County
Photo Caption: Father John Tapp speaks during the dedication of the Nativity Outreach Food Bank on June 6, 2022, as Father John McEvoy listens. Nine parishes have made substantial gifts to support this effort: Nativity Parish, Brandon; St. Stephen Parish and Resurrection Parish, Riverview; St. Timothy Parish, Lutz; St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Seffner; Mary Help of Christians Parish, Brandon; Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission, Wimauma; St. Anne Parish, Ruskin; and Prince of Peace Parish, Sun City Center. Photo by Gabriel Pantojas.
Bishop Emeritus Robert Lynch blessed and dedicated the new Nativity Outreach Food Bank on June 6, 2022. The newly constructed building offers more than 11,000 square feet of warehouse space and state-of-the-art equipment to store and distribute over three million pounds of food each year to 50 food pantries that serve the hungry. Funding for the food bank was assisted by Courageously Living the Gospel, an effort led by Bishop Gregory Parkes to have a greater impact on the community by fulfilling the call of Jesus Christ to love one another and to serve those in need. Nine parishes have made substantial gifts to support this effort: Nativity Parish, Brandon; St. Stephen Parish and Resurrection Parish, Riverview; St. Timothy Parish, Lutz; St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Seffner; Mary Help of Christians Parish, Brandon; Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission, Wimauma; St. Anne Parish, Ruskin; and Prince of Peace Parish, Sun City Center.
“God inspired all of our pastors to come together to work on something that we could do together to make our community better. The mortgage for the facility is a million dollars. It’s a big leap of faith for the Diocese of St. Petersburg, a big leap of faith for all of our parishes. But we like the challenge and know that God is going to bless this effort, because it's just really, really awesome work for the community,” said Father John Tapp, pastor, Nativity Catholic Church in Brandon.
Nativity Outreach Food Bank has been assisting families in Hillsborough County since 1983, but they had outgrown their former building. The new building is 50% larger and is brand new. Construction of the food bank began in December of 2020 and was completed earlier this year. It’s located on the property of San Jose Mission in Dover, a residential community operated by Catholic Charities that provides housing and other services for low-income families involved in the agriculture industry.
The Food Bank is operated by volunteers from multiple parishes who fill a variety of jobs, such as drivers, sorters, and distributors. They are united in their efforts to combat hunger experienced by families, children, the elderly, homeless, disabled, and other vulnerable populations.
“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless,” said Julie Ebert, Coordinator, Nativity Outreach Food Bank, during the dedication ceremony on June 6th.
Bishop Parkes announced Courageously Living the Gospel in 2018. One of the goals called for each deanery (a group of parishes in a geographic region) to launch a Catholic Impact Initiative that addressed a local community issue and mobilized cross-parish creativity to establish desired outcomes.
“The goal is to show compassion for our brothers and sisters who are facing numerous challenges and to bring them the love of Christ. Through these Catholic Impact Initiatives, we are creating a stronger, more relevant and connected Church,” said Bishop Parkes, who could not attend the dedication for health reasons.
Photos of the Dedication and Blessing of the Nativity Outreach Food Bank.
Photo Caption: Volunteers, clergy and the media gather for the blessing and dedication of the Nativity Outreach Food Bank on June 6, 2022. Photo by Gabriel Pantojas.