Bridge of Hope Kitchen aims to feed hungry children

Bridge of Hope Kitchen held their groundbreaking ceremony May 18 with hopes of opening Jan. 2020.

BY KARIN DAVIS-THOMPSON, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — Deborah Hill, founder of the Bridge of Hope Kitchen, said it might be hard to believe, but even in 2019, there are thousands of children in Pinellas County who are going hungry each day. Unwilling to just sit by while that number continues to grow, she decided to do something about it.

She started the Bridge of Hope Kitchen with one simple goal: to provide meals to children and families in need.

“Our mission is to reduce hunger by identifying school-aged children and families and providing them with warm, nutritious meals,” Hill stated. “In some cases, this may be their last meal of the day.”

Hill said feeding children in the community is crucial because not only does everyone deserve good healthy food, but taking care of our children is taking care of our future.

“They will someday be our future leaders and many times due to no fault of their own, they are experiencing very challenging times,” Hill asserted. “If we all do our part, no matter how big or small, it will have a tremendous impact on the next generation.”

According to the Florida Dream Center, an organization founded to help alleviate homelessness, poverty and hunger in Pinellas County, the food insecurity rate in the state of Florida is about 14 percent. In Pinellas County, the number is slightly higher at 15.7 percent.

The Dream Center also found that nearly one in four children, or 25 percent, in the county are considered food insecure. Food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.

Hill, who is also the pastor of New Hope of Glory Ministries, said growing up she was a part of that 25 percent. She knows what it’s like to wonder where your next meal will come from.

“Having been raised by a single mom who had six children, I experienced what it felt like to not always have enough food to eat — to see your parent struggle to put food on the table,” Hill explained. “When you sit around the table with your siblings and share one chicken at dinner time, and then watch your mom take what she had and share it with the neighbor down the street.”

Hill’s experiences and watching her mom share what little she had was no doubt at the forefront of her mind as she came up with a phrase to describe Bridge of Hope Kitchen, “If you have a piece of bread, everybody has a piece of bread.”

Now, with her vision and mission secured, Hill is looking for donations to make it a reality. In May, she began the first phase of the project with the groundbreaking ceremony and an anticipated opening next January.

She said while they plan to begin by offering meals in the evening at least three days a week, they hope to expand and offer cooking demonstrations, budgeting, tutoring, meal planning and life skills.

The Bridge of Hope Kitchen will open in next year at 1176 62nd Ave. S. Hill is excited about whatever role the project can play, big or small, in changing the lives of children.

For more information or if you would like to volunteer or make a donation, you can contact the Bridge of Hope Kitchen at 727-768-3289.

To reach Karin Davis-Thompson, email kdavis-thompson@theweeklychallenger.com

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