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Busch Gardens donates almost 6,000 pounds of food from closed park

Walt Disney World and Amalie Arena have also donated unused food, and there is an app-based nonprofit aiming to connect closed venues with food banks.
Huge piles of food are delivered to Feeding Tampa Bay's warehouse. Busch Gardens donated almost 6,000 pounds of food from the closed theme park to Feeding Tampa Bay, the nonprofit that supplies food pantries. [Busch Gardens]

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Busch Gardens delivered about 5,500 pounds of food to Feeding Tampa Bay this week, a spokeswoman said, as the Tampa theme park remains closed through at least the end of the month because of concerns over the spreading coronavirus.

With hundreds of events canceled and all of the state’s theme parks closed for at least two weeks, the excess food is making its way to local food banks.

There’s even an app-based program called Food Rescue US that helps connect venues, festivals and restaurants that have food that may go to waste. The app both connects them to local food banks and helps food banks find donors.

Amalie Arena on Thursday announced that it was donating 18 pallets of food and beverages to Metropolitan Ministries and Feeding Tampa Bay, since fans won’t be able to use that food in the arena.

Feeding Tampa Bay has increased the number of mobile pantry distributions in the area, their fleet of food distribution wagons that arrive at various “food deserts” in the region. The increase is “in response to many partners in our network who pause or reduce services as their volunteer support shrinks during this time,” the organization said in a statement.

A truck full of food backs into Feeding Tampa Bay's warehouse. Busch Gardens donated almost 6,000 pounds of food from the closed theme park to the nonprofit, which supplies food banks. [Busch Gardens]

Walt Disney World announced on its blog that all of the excess food inventory from its parks, restaurants and hotels, which are now closed through at least the end of March, will go to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Also, the Disney Parks Blog on Friday explained that an “excess inventory of dairy, fruit, vegetables, packaged goods and banquet meals” from Disneyland stocks will be given to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.

How to help

Food banks are in reported a dire need for donations. Contact Feeding Tampa Bay at (813) 254-119 ir simply donate money to this and other local food banks at feedingtampabay.org.

Organizations like Feed America allow you to search for food banks in your area at feedingamerica.org.

Smaller organizations like Daystar Life Center in St. Petersburg have seen their pantry supplies dwindle rapidly. They are in need of donations of food, clothing, household goods and personal care items to help the working poor avoid homelessness. The center, at 1055 28th St. S in St. Petersburg, can also use volunteers and donations of money to restock the supplies at daystarlife.com.

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