Tampa, Florida - The numbers are staggering. On any given day in Tampa Bay, there are anywhere from 700,000 to 750,000 people going hungry. Of them, one in four are children.
"They don't know where their next meal is coming from, don't know what it will be and they don't know when it will be," said Thomas Mantz, Executive Director of Feeding America Tampa Bay.
Mantz tells us 90 percent of the food they distribute through 600 charities and churches throughout the 10-county area goes to the working poor. They are people who have jobs, pay taxes, but cannot afford to feed their families.
"You know somebody who is hungry today. You don't know that you know them, but they're your child's teacher, they're the nurse at your local doctor's office, they're the electrician who comes into your home to do repair," said Mantz.
In 2012, Mantz says Feeding America Tampa Bay distributed about 35 million pounds of food. It was a record-breaking year and yet, it only covered 55% of the actual need.
This year is not expected to be any easier. Mantz tells 10 News he expects they'll distribute even more food this year as families continue to struggle.
Churches like Our Lady of Guadalupe come to Feeding America Tampa Bay's warehouse in Tampa weekly to pick up food for their pantries. The drivers estimate about 150 families are served each week in the Wimauma and Sun City Center area.
"It really helps," said one of the volunteer drivers.
While grocery stores, local farmers and businesses have stepped up to help Feeding America Tampa Bay meet the need, assistance is still needed.
You can fill the need gap and make a difference in the lives of local families by hosting a food drive, making a food donation, donating money or donating your time as a volunteer.
"I often say to people, when you pass a kindergartner, pass a playground, remember one in four kids on that playground are hungry," said Mantz.
A $1 donation allows Feeding America Tampa Bay to feed provide 7 meals.
To learn more about how you can make a difference, log onto feedingamericatampabay.org.