Food For Thought Prepares for New School Year
July 28, 2014 by Audrey Johnson
South Walton is known for having the best things in life. Luxurious vacation homes, opulent shopping, stunning natural resources, and some of the best restaurants you'll find anywhere. But don't be fooled. We have some of the same issues as anywhere else in America. We're fortunate that we also have people here in paradise who keep a foot in the real world.
Not knowing where your next meal is coming from is something no one should have to worry about. Especially if you're a kid. Food insecurity is an every moment feeling, and children are most vulnerable. Food for Thought Outreach has set out to fill the childhood hunger gap in a respectful and positive way.
Founder Tiffanie Shelton’s business acumen, work ethic, and unshakable determination are essential skills when it comes to her leadership role at the organization she founded. However it is her remarkable faith and innate need to help others, while providing the community with a place to serve, that gives her a true sense of fulfillment.
“It means a lot to me to give people something they can believe in,” Tiffanie says. “If we can help one kid, then we’ve done a great job.”
Many students who face the stark reality of hunger qualify for free school lunch programs. Food for Thought tackles the issue of what happens when they go home. The organization fills the evening and weekend gaps by providing inconspicuous backpacks filled with nutritious food. No marketing. No strings attached.
Food For Thought Outreach works with school guidance counselors to send out permission slips to students who qualify for the free school lunch program. By using the school lunch program as a qualifier, Food for Thought is able to serve easy-to-open snacks, fresh fruit, and whole grain breads while allowing both volunteers and students to remain anonymous.
Last school year, Food for Thought Outreach served 550 children in seven schools throughout Walton and Okaloosa counties. Volunteers delivered 57,000 backpacks containing over 350,000 food items, filling the evening and weekend gaps for children who wouldn't have enough to eat otherwise.
Food for Thought Outreach is growing steadily, now serving K-12 schools from Destin to DeFuniak Springs, and anticipates the addition of two new schools and 150 students for the upcoming school year.
Teachers have noticed positive behavioral changes and grade improvements among students in the program. And Food for Thought Outreach receives fan mail from students that are testimony to the good they’re doing in the community.
One student wrote, “Thank you for all of the snacks that you have provided us with. I personally appreciate it because applesauce is brain food and it kept me going and believing in myself that I can do it. Thank you so much.”
As food insecurity is an ongoing problem, so too is Food for Thought’s need for support. You can help!
“It’s very easy to help and make a direct impact right here in our community,” Tiffanie says.
5 Things You Can Do to Help Now
1. Volunteer Food for Thought welcomes volunteers of all ages every week.
2. Sponsor a Child You can donate online at www.foodforthoughtfl.org starting at just $10.
3. Business Sponsorships Financial or in kind partnerships are available with monthly, quarterly, and yearly opportunities.
4. Support Food Drives Food drives are held 3 times per year during Back to School, Holiday, and Spring.
5. Attend Food for Thought Events Food For Thought main events coming up...
Stock The Pantry Party - Back to School Food Drive | AUG 28
For more information, volunteer opportunities, and sponsorship opportunities, contact Food for Thought Outreach at (850) 290-4056. Visit www.foodforthoughtfl.org and go to Food for Thought Outreach on Facebook to learn more.