Caring for Our Communities

“Community Benefit” describes the services a health system provides to individuals and communities without being paid – services valued by BayCare at hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Among these services: providing care to patients who can’t cover the full cost of their medical treatments; funding a medical respite program for individuals with no place to stay while they continue to heal following a hospitalization; sending a mobile medical unit into high-risk neighborhoods to deliver health services; and staffing mobile teams to respond to behavioral health crises in Hernando and Pasco counties.

Serving the Community's Health Needs

Addressing hunger has been a vital mission for BayCare since 2019, when roughly a quarter of the residents the health system surveyed in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties revealed that they struggled to get enough to eat. A second survey in 2022 confirmed that food insecurity remained a pressing issue, so in 2023, BayCare expanded its already wide-ranging efforts to address hunger by:

  • Contributing major financial support to 42 school-based Feeding Minds food pantries operated by BayCare partner Feeding Tampa Bay. The pantries provide free food to students, their families and others who live near the schools.
  • Opening two food clinics – one each in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties – where people have access to free, nutritious food and can receive health screenings and nutrition education.
  • Asking all patients admitted to BayCare’s 16 hospitals if they are food insecure and offering those who answer “yes” a Healing Bag upon discharge that contains two to three days of nonperishable food, plus information about food resources near their homes.

Starting Conversations

In 2023, BayCare stepped up on another issue of great concern across Florida and the nation: children’s mental health. In October, BayCare Kids brought to the region “On Our Sleeves,” a national movement to address the growing mental health needs of children – an annual $250,000 investment by BayCare, which is the largest provider of behavioral health services in West Central Florida. Because children don’t wear their thoughts on their sleeves, it can be difficult to tell when they’re struggling. On Our Sleeves provides free tools and resources to teach parents and caregivers how to start conversations with children and break any stigmas about mental health. Resources and information are available at
2023 total community benefit 557 million including medicaid and other income based programs

Feeding Minds in 2023

Feeding Minds school food pantries
Households served
Meals distributed

Respondents Reporting Food Insecurity


Filling Nutritional Needs 2023

Healing Bags distributed
Resident visits to two BayCare food clinics

Raising Alex

Colleen Nikolaidis’ daughter had a stroke at age 21 but survived to give birth to a beautiful baby boy. She died not long afterward, leaving Colleen to care for Alex, now a gregarious 4-year-old. It hasn’t been easy, the grandmother admits, but one thing that’s helped is access to free groceries from a food pantry at Pinellas Technical College (PTC) near Largo, one of 42 school food pantries operated by nonprofit Feeding Tampa Bay, with financial support from BayCare.

“It helps 100%,” Colleen said, as she stood beside bags of bread, canned goods and fresh foods that Alex had eagerly helped her select. “I’m absolutely grateful.”

Then, in a hallway filled with people still awaiting their turn to enter the pantry, Colleen took Alex’s hand and a visitor’s and softly spoke the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

Sharing Nourishment

Like all students at Pinellas Technical College (PTC), Tameco Ingram has access to a food pantry on the campus that’s open a few hours twice a week. Many students visit the pantry when they’re low on food, but Tameco, who’s studying to be a medical administrative specialist, also uses the pantry to share food with family members who don’t have enough to eat. The pantry is stocked with nonperishables, fresh vegetables, fresh bread and meats.

One of Tameco’s relatives uses a wheelchair and has no way to go out for food. On days when she visits the pantry, she picks up extras for him.
“I like helping people,” she said.

When You Fall…

Two years ago, Heidi Gray was in a crosswalk when a driver ran a red light and hit her, shattering her leg and causing other injuries. She spent three months in a hospital and two months in a rehabilitation center. She emerged healed but with no place to live and no resources.

“When you fall, you just have to get back up,” she told herself. She found she could get free, healthy food from a Pinellas Technical College (PTC) food pantry that BayCare helps support. She began working at the pantry too, where she tries to make everyone feel welcome. She knows from personal experience that a person’s circumstances can change through no fault of their own.

After she noticed the wide age range of students at PTC – the school has students from age 15 through their 70s – Heidi enrolled and is studying accounting. It all started with the food pantry.

“The food pantry was a blessing,” Heidi said. ‘It’s a blessing for a lot of people around here.”