As we near the end of the first 9 weeks of the 2023-24 School Year, Food For Thought Outreach has seen a steep increase in demand for our services across Okaloosa and Walton Counties. Since 2010, Food For Thought Outreach has been serving the food insecure students in our community. As a privately funded non profit organization, we work with our community to provide these critical services every year.
With over 600 additional children enrolling in our services so far this school year, we are close to a 20% increase in program enrollment. We are now serving 35 schools and approximately 3,600 children weekly.
When our partners at Premier Property Group learned of this need, they knew they wanted to help. As a locally owned company, Premier Property Group is committed their community and have been serving with Food For Thought for the past year. With their gift, they want to ensure the food-insecure children enrolled in our programs will continue to access to our critical services.
They have set out to help us raise $100,000. In an effort to do just that, they will match up to $50,000 in donations in support our programs!
Food for Thought is proud to welcome our first Full-Time Culinary Instructor, Chef Ashlyn Hicks. Born and raised in the Florida Panhandle, Ashlyn is focused on giving back to her local community through the kitchen. Growing up, she learned to cook with her mother and grandmother and soon realized that teaching and food were her biggest passions. She felt that being a Culinary Instructor would allow her to meld the two with her desire to serve her hometown.
Although she has lived for a short time in other states, no other place ever felt like home so she decided to advance her culinary education at Northwest Florida State College. Investing in a formal education meant being able to learn the “why” behind the recipes. It also gave her the tools to build strong foundational knowledge that she would be able to pass on to her students.
Ashlyn first learned about Food for Thought in high school and recognized that the work being done was important for the community. Working here allows her the opportunity to work with a purpose but in the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Full Circle Kitchen Ashlyn says her job rarely feels like work, “Being able to see the impact and the smiles when the kids are eating the food they’ve made is one of the best parts.” Her goal as an instructor is to show students that cooking doesn’t need to be intimidating.
Ashlyn is looking forward to her career at Food for Thought and is excited to see her growth as a chef while building relationships within the community.
Just for Fun:
If you could cook with anyone who would it be?
Julia Child. She was a strong woman in the kitchen who paved the way for other female chefs. She never backed down. She went from knowing nothing about cooking to being one of the most well-known chefs in the world.
What is your favorite meal to cook and eat?
Apple Sage Pork Medallions
If you could ban one ingredient from the kitchen what would it be?
What is the most fun thing you’ve prepared?
For a culinary school project, I made 140 petit fours with a cotton candy dome that dissolved when sprayed with water to reveal a butterfly. They were lemon, blueberry, and hibiscus and represented my evolution as a chef.
Food for Thought Receives over $54,000 from the St. Joe Community Foundation Through "Read to Feed" Program
Through the "Read to Feed" program, the St. Joe Community Foundation grants $0.25 for each accelerated reader test taken by a Walton County elementary school student and completed with a score of 80% or above to Food for Thought in support of our year-round efforts to end food insecurity for local children. We are delighted to announce that in the second year of the Read to Feed program, students raised $54,312.50, generously granted to Food for Thought by the St. Joe Community Foundation.
Foundation Director April Wilkes says, "We challenged the students of Walton County to step up their efforts in order to support their friends and classmates, and they came through in a big way." Students embraced this challenge during the 2022-2023 school year and completed 217,250 qualifying accelerated reader tests, up from 185,000 qualifying tests during the 2021-2022 school year.
The Read to Feed program not only supports our efforts at Food for Thought but also encourages reading and empowers the students of Walton County to help make a difference in their community. We are grateful to the St. Joe Community Foundation for continually supporting our mission through their generous giving.
If your business or organization is interested in partnering with Food for Thought to bring the Read to Feed program to Okaloosa County, please reach out to us by emailing email@example.com.
April 22nd and 23rd, the Hammock Bay Pickleball Club will host a mixed doubles tournament supporting Food For Thought Outreach. This event will welcome up to 200 players at the Hammock Bay Courts.
There will be un for the whole family with food and merchandise vendors, raffle prizes, a bounce house, award ceremony and more! Player registration is open until April 14th.
Sponsorship opportunities are available until April 4th and include social media recognition, logo placement on all event marketing including court or tent banners, and the opportunity to include materials in player swag bags.
Thank You to Our Event Sponsors!
April 22nd and 23rd, the Hammock Bay Pickleball Club will host a mixed doubles tournament supporting Food For Thought Outreach. This event will welcome up to 200 players at the Hammock Bay Courts.Sponsorship opportunities are now available.Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.Presenting Sponsor $2,500
Tent Sponsorship $500 ( 3 remaining )
Court Sponsorship ( 8 courts )