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Feeding Tampa Bay expands its mission with new Causeway Center

Outside of large building from the parking lot, daytime with blue sky at top of photo
Tyler Luginski
The Causeway Center is a 215,000 square-foot facility meant to be a hub for serving the 10 counties Feeding Tampa Bay supports.

The nonprofit is focusing on a holistic approach to solving hunger with a state-of-the-art facility.

Just southeast of Port Tampa Bay, there’s a new 215,000-square-foot facility that leaves an impressive mark on the surrounding landscape.

The $60 million building, built and run by Feeding Tampa Bay, is called the Causeway Center.

The goal: building a space to foster community services for combating hunger through personalized support.

“The Feeding Tampa Bay Causeway Center has been in the making for the last five years,” said Lorena Hardwick, the organization’s chief external affairs officer. “One of our team members at some point during a [planning] session said, ‘food alone does not solve hunger.’ And although that is something that we all know, it just hit a little different.”

The shift from the organization’s former space is expected to increase the food bank’s capacity from 85 million to 150 million meals annually, according to officials.

“The space that we have now increases our capacity to bring more food in,” Hardwick said. “We are able to work with our agricultural community to obtain more of that wonderfully healthy, nutritious produce, to bring in our doors and push back out to the community.”

The 90,000-square-foot food warehouse space features up to four times more capacity for cold and freezer storage to help facilitate safe food distribution.

A corridor of a warehouse in between racks and rows of stacked food
Tyler Luginski
The 90,000 square-foot food warehouse features four times the cold and freezer storage for housing fresh foods safely.

Beyond food distribution, roughly one-third of the building is dedicated to holistic efforts.

These include partnerships with around 20 local nonprofits set to provide resources ranging from housing, health care and job training.

“We don't want to reinvent the wheel,” Hardwick said. “We want to be able to tap into the resources that already exist in our community.

“This center gives us gives us the opportunity to walk hand in hand with our partners and provide that one-on-one personal touch services to those that walk in through our doors."

Additionally, services will be provided for veterans and seniors, there's access to a free grocery store by appointment, and a bistro is open to everyone on a what-you-can pay basis.

The new 11,000 square foot kitchen space will also become the base for meals sent to Trinity Cafe locations across the greater Tampa Bay region.

“Up to this point, we have not been able to obtain or accept prepared foods,” Hardwick said. “Now that we have a kitchen, we can get those foods: we have the right refrigeration space, we have all the technology needed to be able to repurpose those meals and push them back out into the community.”

While food will always be at the heart of the organization’s mission, the Causeway Center provides ample opportunity for new forms of community support.

“We wanted to make sure that whatever issue came across a person's life, that we were there to provide services, to provide resources and to provide the right connection point.” Hardwick said.

A room with fresh fruits and vegetables in containers like those found at a grocery store.
Tyler Luginski
The Market is a free grocery store that is available by appointment and allows guests to access to fresh foods and produce.

Tyler Luginski is a WUSF Rush Family Radio News intern for the summer of 2024.