Since its inception and early steps in 2010, Food For Thought Outreach has grown to be a critical part of the lives of more than 3,300 children across 33 schools in Okaloosa and Walton counties. The organization works tirelessly to fight childhood hunger by providing backpack weekly backpacks, monthly snacks, holiday food services, garden initiatives, and culinary education opportunities. The Defuniak Warehouse space is only the next step in the incredible outreach possibilities for the Food for Thought organization.
The warehouse, located at 2132 US 90 in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, will provide the organization for the first time with the capacity to purchase and hold at least three months’ worth of food and supplies at one time, preventing shortages or delays in receiving food. The space will be used as a pull center to ensure the small pantry locations (in Santa Rosa Beach and Destin) are always in stock and ready for services.
Nelson said, “Every year the demand for our program services continues to expand. In an effort to meet these demands the board of directors at Food For Thought Outreach began looking and scalable solutions for our programs. With volunteers and food being our two biggest needs, we focused on easing the burden of our volunteers and ensuring we can source and store the amount of food we need to serve the children in our service.”
Food For Thought Board Member Hilary Farnum-Fast, said “Making the distribution center in Defuniak a reality took a huge leap of faith for the Food for Thought organization, but the need and the demand was so apparent that it had to happen. The ability to receive the large quantities of food required to serve the children in need in our surrounding counties, is a huge step forward in fighting food insecurity. In addition, having a center in the heart of Defuniak will ensure that this part of the county will have easier access to the services Food For Thought offers families in need.”
Nelson said, “Adding a location in the path of our delivery trucks and closer to the majority of the schools we serve, just made sense. While we set our sites on Highway 90 and the DeFuniak area, we had to find the right location. When this unique and generous offer came to us, we knew we had what we needed.”
And the offer was extremely unique and very needed. The generous contributions and donations of many Food For Thought supporters made the warehouse vision a reality, including a $100,000 grant from the Dugas Family Foundation, a $25,000 grant from Isagenix International, a $30,000 grant and in-kind materials from The Seaside Style, a $20,000 grant from Army Aviation Federal Credit Union, and a $10,000 grant from Jim and Tammy Pierce. Pierce said, “Tammy and I are honored to help Tiffanie and her Team provide nourishment for our area’s school children.”
Even the supplies and work on the warehouse were true ‘labors of love,’ including Chris Harp of Ryan Harp Construction offering contractor services, Tania Kohler providing an industrial fan, Franks Cash & Carry donating most of the lumber for the project, Williams Sonoma giving materials, Huckleberry Trim LLC giving cabinetry and woodwork services, Taylor Allen Properties providing consulting and Southern States Power Washing offering power washing. Even Walton Correctional Institution was able to help with the massive undertaking, providing demo and landscaping services. Countless, tireless, thankless volunteers showed up to help whenever asked, and all of a sudden, the warehouse is complete and ready to serve its purpose in the community. A community that came together to make it all possible.
Travis Ogden, Chief Executive Office of Isagenix, said, “The Isagenix Legacy Foundation is thrilled our $25,400 grant helped Food For Thought expand its warehouse operations so it can best serve students who need healthy, nutritious meals,” said Isagenix Chief Executive Officer Travis Ogden. “We share Food For Thought’s passion for fighting child hunger, and we look forward to hearing about its continued — and impressive — impact on children in Florida.”
“The Dugas Family Foundation has been enthusiastic about lending its support to Tiffanie and Food For Thought,” said Lynn Dugas of the Dugas Family Foundation. “Tiffanie, her staff and her team of volunteers are simply remarkable. We know they will make every dollar donated count in support of students throughout Walton and Okaloosa Counties. When it comes to serving others in an authentic, heartfelt manner, Food For Thought is an example of the Emerald Coast at its very best.”
Nelson said, “We took on a rather extensive renovation and improvement effort that has taken us 15 months to complete. While there is still work to be done to reach our long term vision, we are in a place to start. This new location will allow us to expand our services, source better food pricing, and provide our volunteers an easier experience.”
Work will begin at the warehouse in May as the organization prepares to run its Summer Program Services out of th new location, and the team will continue to work on small projects in the new location to prepare the space for the upcoming new school year.
The Walton Area Chamber of Commerce will host the ribbon cutting at the new warehouse location on May 2nd at1PM and afterwards until 3:30, guests will be invited to tour the new space, have their questions answered, and even sign up to volunteer themselves.
The entire project has been an act of dedication and perseverance, and truly made possible through the generous giving spirits of those who support Food for Thought most. Nelson said, “We took on a rather extensive renovation and improvement effort that has taken us 15 months to complete. While there is still work to be done to reach our long term vision, we are in a place to start.”
For more information about Food For Thought Outreach, please visit fftfl.org or to make plans to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony on May 2, please visit waltonareachamber.com.
About Food for Thought Outreach, Inc.
Food For Thought is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization in Florida, serving Walton and Okaloosa Counties. Food For Thought provides backpacks filled with healthy, easy to prepare food for students who are dependent on free or reduced school meals. Our 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 33 schools in Walton and Okaloosa Counties, providing backpacks for 3,300 students each week. For more information, such as donation locations, pantry items needed, and opportunities to volunteer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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