WWE, Nestlé announce community gardens initiative in Tampa

In addition to funding five sustainable community gardens, the initiative provides donations to Feeding Tampa Bay and the Bullard Family Foundation. Cover photo provided by WWE, Inc.

One day before Wrestlemania 37 is set to take over Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. and Nestlé Pure Life announced a partnership with Feeding Tampa Bay and the Bullard Family Foundation aimed at developing a new Sustainable Community Garden initiative.

“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, food and nutrition insecurity has increased significantly in Tampa Bay,” says Stephanie McMahon, WWE’s chief brand officer, in a statement. “We are pleased to be partnering with Nestlé Pure Life to support Feeding Tampa Bay and the Bullard Family Foundation to help raise awareness for this critical issue and to affect lasting change in the Tampa community.”

The Sustainable Community Garden Initiative was created in collaboration with the University of Florida IFAS Extension Service and Hillsborough Public Schools. The announcement was made Friday morning at Sligh Middle Magnet School in Tampa, where the first of five sustainable community gardens was unveiled.

The locations of the other four community gardens were not immediately available, but the initiative will be integrated into local school curriculums and is expected to provide access to freshly harvested food for families in those neighborhoods.

Included in the initiative are donations by WWE and Nestlé Pure Life totaling $100,000.

WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon, center, and Tampa resident Thaddeus Bullard, back row, second from left, who wrestles as Titus O’Neil, pose during a check presentation Friday at Sligh Middle Magnet School. Photo provided by WWE, Inc.

Feeding Tampa Bay will receive $50,000 to use within its FRESHforce food-service training cohort, providing food support and culinary workforce development to individuals who may otherwise be unable to find work.

“Our partnership at the Prosperity Center with the Bullard Family Foundation has elevated our FRESHforce culinary program to new heights,” says Matt Spence, chief programs officer at Feeding Tampa Bay. “Together, we embrace our neighbors with barriers to employment by providing a comprehensive training program that addresses those barriers while providing food support, building employability skills and achieving industry standard credentials.”

Another $50,000 will be donated to the Bullard Family Foundation to help develop and maintain the five community gardens. The Foundation was established in 2018 by Tampa resident Thaddeus Bullard, a WWE Global Ambassador who wrestles under the stage name Titus O’Neil and was the 2020 Warrior Award recipient.

“Food insecurity is a critical issue that we are aggressively trying to combat. The only way to close the gap is to work alongside great organizations like Nestlé Pure Life, WWE and Feeding Tampa Bay,” says O’Neil. “This is a great opportunity for us to not only provide access to nutritious meals but also educate those in underserved areas that have an interest in a culinary career.”

In response to the COVID pandemic,  Feeding Tampa Bay evolved its services by almost doubling its reach to serve two million meals weekly, and anticipates it will serve up to 86 million meals this year.

“Thanks to WWE and Nestlé Pure Life for this generous donation that will support an entire culinary cohort through our eight-week training program,” Spence says. “Efforts like these get Feeding Tampa Bay closer to our goal of a hunger-free Tampa Bay by 2025.”

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