BRANDON — Brandon-area residents are invited to the Taste of 2013, an annual fundraiser for Nativity Outreach Food Pantry and Food Bank, from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, in the Msgr. James Lara Youth Center at Nativity Catholic Church, 705 E. Brandon Blvd.
Diners can sample food offered by more than 20 restaurants while listening to music spun by a local DJ. A face painter and balloon sculptor will entertain children.
For 30 years, volunteers at Nativity Outreach Food Pantry and Food Bank have collected, warehoused and distributed food to hungry individuals and families, to churches that hand out food and to 40 other area food pantries.
The ministry’s roster of 124 volunteers feeds more than 250 people each week, providing fresh food, canned goods, baby items, toiletries and paper goods from 3 to 4 p.m. every Thursday in the Nativity Catholic School cafeteria.
They also give away 100,000 pounds of pet food a year.
The pantry and food bank began when Sister Constance Arsenault and members of the Nativity Friendship Club started a service project to hand out single bags of food to people outside the old church, said Sue Hrabusa, co-director with Carl and Tessie Falkenbach.
The outreach is specifically for people in four nearby ZIP codes who have signed up for assistance. However, anyone who comes on Thursday will receive food, said Hrabusa, who also will give them a list of agencies and ministries to visit near where they live.
“We are seeing more elderly,” said Hrabusa. “It’s anywhere from young couples, single moms, to homeless men and women. It’s a range, young to old, every family size.”
The food pantry is nondiscriminatory, for people of any or no religion, said Hrabusa.
“We don’t evangelize,” she said. “We operate out of Nativity Catholic Church, but we’re not there to promote religion. It’s about taking care of the person coming through the door, helping make their life a little better.”
Hrabusa said, “It’s wonderful when we hear success stories. Some will come in and say thank you, some will send cards, which we read to the volunteers. People do get jobs, do get back on their feet; they just come here to tide themselves over. It works.”
Advance tickets for the Taste of 2013 are $10 per person and may be purchased at the Nativity Catholic Church and School offices at 705 E. Brandon Blvd. Tickets are $15 at the door. Children under 4 are free; those 4 through 8 are $5, in advance or at the door.
For information about donating, receiving assistance or attending the event, call Hrabusa, (813) 681-4204, or the food bank, (813) 707-1523.
Send news of community interest to Barbara Routen at Neighbors@tampabay.rr.com.