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Where Love Grows: Meals Reconnect Tampa Families

A family is anyone under your roof for a day or a lifetime.

That’s the motto of Where Love Grows, a Tampa-based nonprofit with the mission of enriching families so they may in turn enrich themselves.

The organization was founded in 2012 by Vicki Anzalone, who moved to Tampa from New Jersey six years ago seeking warmer weather to help her fibromyalgia.

The inspiration came from watching her two sons, Chase and Chad, help their friend raise his son, Cam. Cam was being raised by single parents who had no extended family in the area. Anzalone watched the "it takes a village" concept come to life as Cam’s family became a network of his parents’ friends, who would often gather around the dinner table for laughs and good conversation.

The most recent initiative is Victoria's Good Table. Inspired by Anzalone’s grandmother, Victoria, the program provides a safe dinner table for hungry children in the Tampa area.

"My best memories came from around the table," Anzalone recalls of growing up. Her idea is to create these memories for children who would not otherwise have them due to poverty.

Anzalone cooks the meals out of her own home with just a 4-burner electric stovetop and receives help from volunteers for the delivery and serving, feeding 70 – 130 kids at a time, mostly at the Boys and Girls Club of Tampa Bay. Meals are served family style, while people engage in conversation.

 "I’ve been asked to cook and come live with many children," laughs Anzalone.

Victoria's Good Table has fed 800 kids in Hillsborough County since its launch in January. Anzalone has received support from organizations such as Feeding America Tampa Bay, Chobani and the Tampa Yankees, who recently donated tickets to the Field of Dreams event which fed 130 kids.

"I’ve been blessed to be able to serve, but what I get back in return outweighs any efforts or cost," says Anzalone.  
Future plans include larger scale events with parents in attendance.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Vicki Anzalone, Where Love Grows

Read more articles by Megan Hendricks.

Megan Hendricks is a feature writer at 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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