Four teens at the Sulphur Springs community garden with master gardener Diana Kyle.

Diana Kyle, master gardener, and camper Camille, (second from left) at Sulphur Springs PK-8 Community Partnership School in the learning garden.

When you think about Tampa, FL, you often think about the YMCA. The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA has been integral to the Tampa Bay community for the last 134 years. Today, we are proud to partner with additional non-profit organizations like Sulphur Springs PK-8 Community Partnership School and Feeding Tampa Bay. Our partnership provides children in Sulphur Springs with the resources to learn, grow and thrive all year long.

This collaboration began when we recognized the growing need for accessible and nutritious food in our Sulphur Springs community. Feeding Tampa Bay, a local non-profit food bank, stepped in to provide youth and their families with healthy food resources. Fresh produce, canned goods, grains, meat and dairy products fill the shelves at our Sulphur Springs food pantry courtesy of Feeding Tampa Bay.

The food pantry is a client-choice model which allows families to shop and select their own food instead of receiving a pre-packed or standard bag of groceries. With this method, families do not have to take items they already have, do not like or cannot eat for health or personal reasons.

Families can shop for free food at the Sulphur Springs pantry weekly on Thursdays. In addition to the food pantry, the students are tackling food insecurity and sustainability in innovative ways. Students and master gardener Diana Kyle maintain the 800-square-foot learning garden. The garden is located near the school pantry and provides students with hands-on life skills in nutrition, leadership and decision-making skills.

The garden houses collard greens, squash, kale, Jamaican callaloo, sugar cane, onions, tomatoes, bananas, edible marigolds, blueberries, peanuts, lettuce, oregano, mint, sage and so much more!

Camielle, a Sulphur Springs PK-8 Community Partnership School student, shares:

"These are the sweetest peppers in the world."

She adds, "I love growing peanuts and making kale chips from the kale I grow in the garden."

You can help support students like Camielle by getting involved with our Sulphur Springs PK-8 Community Partnership School.

Published Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023