LAKELAND, Fla. — The food bank at Mt. Tabor Baptist Church in Lakeland fed more than 175 people in Polk County each week, but the building is now a pile of rubble after Friday night’s storm. 

"Seeing it with the light of day was just humbling, speechless," said Pastor Matt Gilmore. "I mean I just sat there and looked at it like, ‘What do I do? How do I move forward? What’s the first thing I need to do?’ And it was like, I couldn’t do anything." 

But Pastor Matt says they are looking forward, already working to get the proper shelter and refrigeration necessary to get the food bank back up and running, even before they worry about their own needs. 

“I had multiple people today reach out and say, “Hey, we think we might have something that will work for you all.’ So I’m going to be tracking all those down tomorrow. If we can solve that key part, we’ve got all the freezers plugged in, Feeding Tampa Bay is going to probably start delivering food again next week to us, and we’ll be able to open up in some form or fashion on November 6. 

That’s my my goal,” said Pastor Matt. 

He says the deadline is so important to him because he knows how much people depend on it. 

“We’re meeting the most basic needs. Jesus met basic needs, he fed the 5,000. He met the needs of everyday people. That’s what we’re to be. That’s who Jesus called us to be,” said Pastor Matt. 

He says in the meantime, they rented a storage container which will be delivered on Tuesday to collect canned goods and non-perishable food items for those with immediate needs. 

They will also collect school supplies for students up the street at Kathleen Middle School up the street, which was also damaged in the storm. 

Anyone who wishes to help can drop off donations to the church at 3504 Mt. Tabor Road in Lakeland.