By Deborah Bostock-Kelley

Katrease James’ passion is helping the less fortunate, whether that means going into the neighborhoods and feeding the hungry, creating baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas, or gathering direly needed items for children in lower-income communities. Through her organization, Fannie J’s Feeding Table, she’ll either be doing it on her own or reaching out on social media, drumming up support to help her meet her goal. 

Determined not to be a statistic of a mother who abused drugs, Katrease was raised by her grandmother Fannie and taught everything from life lessons to recipes from the kitchen table.

When Katrease decided to start her organization in 2016, she thought naming it after her grandmother would be the perfect way to honor the woman who had such an indelible impact on her life.

“Everything my grandmother taught me about life, about cooking, about character, about leadership – all of that she taught from a table because she was blind. She literally gave me the instructions on how to cook, and when I cooked, we sat up at the table together. She taught me how to carry myself as a young lady. She gave me a foundation, taught me how to treat people, and took me to church. She taught me about life, and it was at the table, so that’s why I came up with the name Fannie J’s Feeding Table.”

Fannie J’s Feeding Table mission is to feed the mind, body, and spirit of youth who reside in low-income, impoverished areas of Tampa. It provides leadership, self-empowerment, character-building workshops, and financial literacy using a multisector approach to address significant health, environmental and economic disparities in Tampa.

Her long-term goal is to have a brick-and-mortar location for Fannie J’s Feeding Table that provides a safe place for kids in the community to take workshops and seminars. She wants to be able to help parents afford summer program fees. 

While that goal is in the distant future, her present goal is to help students prepare for the next school year. 

On July 31, from 1 to 3 pm, Katrease will be at Legacy Academy, 302 East Linebaugh Avenue collecting book bags filled with underwear and socks. Katrease offers free hot dogs, chips, and juice with live music by DJ Hershel to encourage donations.

While having new underwear and socks is typically an expected part of back-to-school shopping, for some, new undergarments and socks don’t exist when shopping isn’t a normal part of planning the new school year.

Her goal is to distribute 400 book bags filled with socks and undergarments to incoming students.

Katrease said, “The reason why I’m doing the back school event for the next school year is that it is a need in our community that is often overlooked. Everybody donates school supplies and clothing. Some mothers can’t afford to buy the supplies that the schools request them to purchase for several children in the household or the clothes. No one is thinking about the need for what goes underneath – the undergarments or socks. Our children in our low-income communities do not have the luxury to enjoy proper undergarments or socks. I want to change that.”

To donate a bookbag, socks, and undergarments, make a monetary donation, or learn more about Fannie J’s Feeding Table, visit https://www.facebook.com/www.fanniejs4545 or call 813-551-7833.