Metropolitan Ministries was expecting a big challenge and preparing to serve as many as 40,000 families this holiday season due to hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The need is even worse than anticipated, and the nonprofit now expects those numbers could climb to 50,000 families in need of aid.
With CDC recommended precautions in place, Metropolitan Ministries opened its first-ever online registration process on October 28. Flooded with requests for help, the host server crashed in the first few hours and continues to be inundated. A more robust system had to be implemented to handle the volume.
To meet the need, Metro has turned itself inside out and expanded its reach to six counties through 65 distribution partner locations in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, and new this year, Manatee and Hernando counties. Nearly half, 23,000 households, will be served through the partner sites and 1,200 homebound individuals will receive deliveries.
The demand for nonperishable food is a real concern amid the pandemic. Food collection drives are down by 50% versus 2019, and the ability for the Ministries to make bulk purchases is more limited.
The only way that Metropolitan Ministries can meet the need is with the support of the Tampa Bay community. Food donations can be dropped off at the main holiday tent in Tampa or at various partner locations.
Most needed items: canned yams, stuffing, cranberry sauce, boxed potatoes.
Metropolitan Ministries accepting donations via Amazon and other retailers shipped directly to the holiday tent at 2609 N. Rome Ave., Tampa, FL 33607.
For information about locations and how to help go to metromin.org/holidaycentral