Feeding Tampa Bay’s workforce program makes a measurable impact

June 29, 2021

Feeding Tampa Bay is tackling hunger in new and innovative ways. From grocery distributions at bus stations to food pantries on school campuses, Feeding Tampa Bay is out in the community striving to achieve its vision of a hunger-free Tampa Bay. One of the latest ways is by breaking down the barriers to employment so individuals can close the income gap and achieve long-term stability.

Working with community partners, Feeding Tampa Bay launched its FRESHforce workforce program in 2019. The program offers students technical skills and hands-on experience across three cohorts: culinary training, warehouse and logistics, and commercial truck driving.

During the pandemic in 2020, FRESHforce helped more than 30 unemployed individuals in Hillsborough County get back to work. Feeding Tampa Bay felt good about the program, but they wanted to prove it’s working and producing a meaningful ROI, so the leadership team asked the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council to prepare an economic impact report.

Robin DiSalvo, the Tampa Bay EDC’s market research analyst, used IMPLAN 2019 data and the IMPLAN calculation process to estimate the economic impact. The economic impact attributed to the 33.5 full-time and part-time jobs created 7.2 indirect jobs and supported an additional 7.3 induced jobs for a total employment output of 48 jobs. These jobs added to the total labor income of more than $2 million in total wages and total economic output of more than $5 million.

FRESHforce is unique in a couple of ways. There is no cost to attend the program and students receive a stipend. In addition to receiving industry-standard certifications upon graduation, one day a week is dedicated to soft skills development, an area many local business leaders identified as a need. And since lack of employment probably isn’t the only area students are struggling with, Feeding Tampa Bay offers wrap around services to address any other barriers such as transportation challenges or food insecurity.

What’s next for FRESHforce? Expansion. In terms of both helping more people and offering more types of training programs. Feeding Tampa Bay feels it has proved the holistic support it offers – in addition to the skills training – is effective. Feeding Tampa Bay can expand the service area and partner with other organizations to achieve even greater success.

For more information on the economic impact report, please contact Robin DiSalvo.

For more information about Feeding Tampa Bay’s FRESHforce program, please contact Matt Spence.