Food For Thought Gets “Fresh For Summer”

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By Jessica Roberts

On average, a student enrolled in the free and reduced meal program at school will miss access to 110 meals over the summer. Food For Thought Outreach is here to help bridge that meal gap.

Starting the first week of June, Food For Thought will start its 10th year of summer services and provide a total of 25 curbside food distributions across five locations in Okaloosa and Walton counties serving over 600 families. Each family will receive 30-50 food items.

Their theme this summer is “Fresh for Summer,” as they commit to provide even more fresh food items within their bags of food including fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, cheese sticks and Kraft™ Lunchables. “The number one request from the families we serve is for fresh items —fresh produce, refrigerated items and more,” says Tiffanie Nelson, Founder & CEO of Food For Thought Outreach. “This past year, we were able to acquire more refrigeration and equipment through generous donors and grants so we have the infrastructure to meet these needs. Through the pandemic, it’s been difficult to get all the shelf-stable items we need, but we’ve had success in ordering fresh items.”

The organization has set a high goal of raising $20,000 to support these needs. “We purchase 90% of our food items—the vast majority of items are not donated,” adds Tiffanie. “So, this is a big investment in our services and in the community. Our community has always stepped up to help its neighbors, and we have been thrilled with the support so far.”

Ten local businesses have signed on as location sponsors including Beach Baby Crib Rentals, Clean Juice Quarters 4 Kids, Community Bank, The Dish and The Spoon Traveling Chef, Indigo Watercolor, Odd Pelican Beer Company, Pish Posh Patchouli’s, Restaurant Paradis, SpineLife Chiropractic and Taylor Allen Properties. You can help Food For Thought fight childhood food insecurity and hunger by donating $40 to support one curbside food distribution for one family in need.

Supporters have multiple ways to donate. Visit fftfl.org to donate, text FFTFRESH to 44321, or stop by one of their pantry locations to drop off a check. Food items are also accepted. Items like individual cereal cups, fruit cups and applesauce, shelf stable milk and juice boxes, pop top chicken, soups, and other individual snack items. A full list can be found on their website.

If you or someone you know is in need of support from Food For Thought, you can get information about food services by emailing support@fftfl.org or by calling 850-714-1960.

Food For Thought is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization based in Santa Rosa Beach that provides backpacks filled with healthy, easy to prepare food for students who are dependent on free or reduced school meals. Its goal is to support a child’s development and educational experience by bridging the gap between school meals during weekends and holiday breaks. Food For Thought has been working to fight child hunger since 2010, and currently serves 35 schools in Walton and Okaloosa Counties, providing backpacks for more than 3,300 students each week. For more information, such as donation locations, pantry items needed and opportunities to volunteer, please email support@fftfl.org.