Food Bank of Manatee holds annual ‘Stuff the Bus’

Feeding Manatee County

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - It’s not a common sight to see a school bus parked outside a Publix on a Sunday.

Instead of having students filling up the seats, it was boxes of food filling that space. That food were donations from shoppers to help restock the shelves at the Food Bank of Manatee.

“The most common are soups, beans and canned vegetables, and the occasional canned meat, peanut butter breakfast bar," said volunteer Justin Strum.

The Food Bank held its annual Stuff the Bus event, and had Manatee County School buses parked at each Publix location in Manatee County. However, this year it was a little different.

“Now more than ever we need the food on the shelves so we can support the pantries,” said food bank’s President and CEO Maribeth Phillips.

Earlier this month, Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee was notified its USDA contract has been awarded to “Feeding Tampa Bay.” About three million pounds of food that been previously sent and distributed to the Food Bank of Manatee is now being managed by an agency based outside of Manatee County, leaving shelves empty.

“It means that pantries of Manatee County have to go up to Tampa or we just don’t have that food,” said Phillips.

But with events like this one, it gives the food pantry more ability to help those in need.

“It’s wonderful to see shelves getting packed, but I suspect that shelves will be unpacked very quickly because our families need food,” said Manatee Area President of United Way Suncoast Bronwyn Beightol.

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