ST. PETERSBURG, FL — Chefs for the Polls is keeping St. Petersburg voters fed for free as they make their way to polling sites during early voting and on Election Day.
This national initiative is from chef Jose Andres' World Central Kitchen, serving free sandwiches and water at polling sites in more than 30 cities across the United States.
World Central Kitchen coordinated efforts with Puff'n Stuff Events Catering, located in Orlando and Tampa, to bring 1,000 sandwiches a day to the downtown St. Petersburg polling location, 501 1st Ave. N.
Catering manager Joseph Malvasi and supervisor Megan Vollmer set up outside the building and offered everyone who walked by a free sandwich and water. Not everyone has to be a voter or show proof that they are voting to get free food.
"We're offering turkey and provolone sandwiches, as you can see, and bottle of water to anyone who come to the polls and to anyone who would like one," Malvasi told a Patch reporter. "Feeding the community is the importance of this. After covid, people are going through some hard times, and I think that's what really is stirring this and getting the vote out."
Malvasi said the organization is nonpartisan and members don't care who people vote for, they're just at each location to feed the community.
"We’ll be stationed by polling locations around the country, targeting those with historically long lines, predicted massive turnouts, or limited facilities, sharing meals with anyone – no questions asked," Chefs For The Polls said on its website. "If we can help alleviate the challenges of Election Day, we will be there."
The company's chefs start work early in the morning at its Tampa location to prepare the sandwiches that are made with Boar's Head turkey meat, provolone, lettuce and tomato on a bun. Staff packs the sandwiches in huge coolers and places them inside the vans so that team members can be at each polling location by 10 a.m.
In addition to Pinellas County, they are feeding voters in Hillsborough County.
Whether you're taking advanatage of voting on the last day of early voting on Sunday, or waiting until Election Day, the catering company will be there for you with free food and water starting at 10 a.m. until the polls close at 7 p.m.
On days they do not hand out every sandwich, they go to Mirror Lake Park and other downtown locations to give out the leftovers to homeless people.