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Food Bank of Manatee Losing Biggest Supplier

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MANATEE COUNTY, FL (WWSB) - The Food Bank of Manatee is losing it's largest supplier of food.

Feeding Tampa Bay will no longer support the organization.

Last year, the Food Bank of Manatee distributed 4.2 million pounds of food throughout the county, half of which came from Feeding Tampa Bay.

Feeding Tampa Bay served as the middle man between the Food Bank of Manatee, and several grocery store chains.

But now Feeding Tampa Bay is ending its relationship with Manatee County, and taking the grocery donations with it.

Feeding Tampa Bay said that one in six people who live in Manatee County are food insecure, and rely on the food bank for donations. Many of those donations came from the big grocery chains, like Publix, Walmart and Sam's Club.

"We had about 100 stops and we sent our staff and our vehicles to pick up that food and then that 110 agencies and pantries to come here to the food bank to shop to bring the food back to their pantries," Said Maribeth Phillips, who is the President and CEO of Food Bank of Manatee County.

    

As of July 1st, that partnership will be no more. Feeding Tampa Bay said the reason is to provide more food throughout the county.

"We will begin to collect and redistribute some of the food in Manatee County ourselves and as well as we will bring in additional food resources from other assets and opportunities  we have to make sure there is more food coming in to the community," Said Thomas Mantz, who is the Executive Director of Feeding Tampa Bay.

But, because the Food Bank of Manatee relied on  the retail stores for nearly half of their food intake, they are not sure how this will effect them.

"That first week of July is when we'll see how it's going to affect the pantries, and the sourcing of food through the retail channel," Phillips said.

With the other half of their food coming from food drives, pantries, churches, and neighbors, the food bank is urging people to lend a helping hand.

"Our call to action here in manatee county is get those food drives going, talk to your neighbors and bring us anything in your pantry that you're not using because we can use it to feed Manatee County," Said Phillips.

Both the Food Bank of Manatee and Feeding Tampa Bay said their goal is to help feed as many people in Manatee County as possible

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