About 727 people get their groceries each month at the Beach Community Food Pantry in Indian Rocks Beach. That number represents a five percent increase from the number of people served during the holidays, said volunteer Chuck Pond, who coordinates personnel at the pantry.
"I find it rewarding giving back to the community. I feel like we are dong something worthwhile," Pond said.
Running the pantry takes a devoted team of 35 volunteers. The team serves at the pantry and helps get the food. Once seasonal residents head back home, the pantry will need more volunteers, Pond said.
"I like to serve. It helps me be grateful for what I have. I like helping people," said volunteer Pam Mirabal as she checked expiration dates on boxes and cans of food.
On Friday morning just before 10 a.m. people waited patiently in the sunshine for the pantry doors to open. A box of leafy, green cabbage helped prop up a sign pointing the way to enter the pantry.
"The food pantry helps us out. I have been coming for more than three years. I have met a lot of friendly, good people," a patron named Dominica said.
The pantry gives out 1,000 pounds of food each week. Patrons can do some of their own shopping, choosing a set number of cans of vegetables and other staples. Plus, the pantry stocks frozen meats, a selection of cereals and even pet food. As people check out, they can get bags with can openers, table service and toiletries, if they want.
About 85 percent of the food is purchased and 15 percent of the food comes from donations. The pantry always needs monetary donations to get food. The pantry spends between $1400-$1500 per month on food. The primary sources for the food are Save A Lot, Aldi's and Feeding America, Pond said.
For more information on the pantry:
Address: 1615 First Street, Indian Rocks Beach
Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. until noon.