• Volunteer Spotlight: Linda Koch



    All of us at Food For Thought are so thankful for the volunteers that help with all of our programs! Today, we would like to thank Linda Koch for all of her help that she has provided in the Emeril Lagasse Full Circle kitchen.  Please read below to find out what it means to Linda to volunteer at FFT:


    After retiring two years ago from PepsiCo in Dallas, Linda moved to Emerald Coast.  It was important to her to remain busy and to get involved in the community while she was retired. When Linda learned about Food For Thought Outreach, she knew that she had to get involved, and she loves that she is able to help kids to cook at the Santa Rosa Beach pantry, but her time volunteering has also showed her how important it is to get involved and give back as a retired person

    At a fund raising event Linda attended over a year ago, is when Linda first signed up to help in the Full Circle Kitchen.  She knew that she has enough knowledge about cooking and time to help, so decided to sign up that night.  

    Linda has been volunteering with Food For Thought for a year and a half and enjoys her time cooking with the kids.  She said that "seeing the excitement in their eyes when they are able to create food that tastes delicious to them," is what she enjoys the most.  And she has noticed that it builds the kid's confidence when they see how easy it is to make some of the food dishes that are taught to them and hopes that it gives the kids energy to try and cook more outside of the FFT Full Circle Kitchen. "When I hear them tell their friends they can’t wait to come back next week, I know we’ve done something good that day," said Linda. 

    Linda said that ever since she raised her hand at the fundraising event, she has been looking forward to every class that she has taught with the kids!

    We are very grateful for you, Linda and all of our volunteers!

    If you would like to sign up to volunteer, please contact us: volunteer@fftfl.org


    Posted by Katie Grace
  • Cram the Van Success!

    What a great way to kick off our Summer Program food drive! Thank you to Pizza by the Sea, Winn-Dixie and Grand Boulevard for hosting our vans to collect food items for our summer program. There was a great turn out at each location over the last two weeks, and we are grateful to you and your customers for helping to fill our pantry for the summer.

    Look below at the number of food items that were collected through each location; these donations have helped to provide for our first summer service earlier this week: 

    • Pizza-by-the-Sea: 1,227 food items
    • Winn-Dixie Destin: 801 food items and $1K in monetary donations
    • Grand Boulevard Farmer's Market: 355 food items and $135 in monetary donations

    We still are collecting donations for the 2nd and 3rd summer meal service.  You can drop off donations at any of the pantry locations on Tuesdays, from 8:30-4:30, or donate online HERE

    A portion of the donations from Cram the Van:






    Posted by Katie Grace
  • Love All Tennis Tournament Thank you!

    Wow, what a great event the Love All Tennis Tournament in Rosemary Beach event turned out to be! 

    A huge thank you to Hilary & Reverie Properties for organizing and sponsoring this event, as well as a thank you to the many other sponsors who donated food, time and items for the silent Auction.  This sold-out event raised more than $14K for Food Thought, and we are so grateful!!

    We hope that our 48 players enjoyed their day playing in the sun; it definitely was a warmer day than expected but all the players looked to be having a great time.

    Love All Tennis  2019

    In addition to a full day of tennis, the auction lot did not disappoint.  Thank you to the local businesses who donated for the silent auction:

    Keep an eye out for the 2020 Love All Tennis Save the Date; this event will most definitely be back in 2020!



    Posted by Katie Grace
  • Employee Spotlight: Bennet Bastian

    Our program coordinator, Bennet Bastian, has had quite the array of experiences prior to joining the team at Food For Thought. A world traveler and volunteer with The Peace Corp, Bennet is fluent in four additional languages (German + 3 Ethiopian languages).  His two years experience with the Peace Corp and as a public health contractor in Ethiopia lead him to Food For Thought when he returned to his home on the Emerald Coast. 

    Bennet Bastian

    During his time in Ethiopia, Bennet focused on public health, organizing volunteers and gardening, which has translated well to his role at Food For Thought as the program coordinator.  He spends his time supporting the programs at each of the pantries (backpack, snack and garden), and definitely has become our go-to-guy for anything related to the Full Circle Garden, as he helps to keep them flourishing. In addition, Bennet is key in helping our program director facilitate the packing and delivery of the backpacks and snacks to each of the schools among the two counties FFT Serves.

    Bennet enjoys the interaction he has with the volunteers that come to help Food For Thought, and was drawn to FFT outreach knowing that it is helping to benefit kids in our community that are in need.  A native of Okaloosa County, Bennet said that if he were a kid today, he would likely have been a beneficiary of the FFT program as he was on the reduced meal program in school himself.  

    We appreciate all the hard work that Bennet does coordinating our backpack, snack and garden programs and are very thankful that he has a green thumb!

    Posted by Katie Grace
  • Summer is Quickly Approaching! #youcanhelp

    School is out this week for both Walton and Okaloosa counties, which means Summertime!! While most kids are excited to have the time off from school, there are many kids that have anxiety about being hungry over the school break. 

    Summer Program Sponsorship

    The FFT Summer Program serves both Okaloosa and Walton Counties, providing 66K meals to 600 students over three months.  The students involved in the summer program are able to pick up a month's worth of food, three times at our pick-up locations located within both counties.

    By continuing to keep kids fed throughout the summer, it is empowering these students to stay nourished and not worry about where their next meal will come from while they are out of school.  We are looking forward to be able to provide food to our students throughout the summer in hopes they will be able to enjoy their break as much as possible. 

    If you haven't already, will you consider to sponsor a family over the summer? There are three levels that you can donate today for our Summer Program: 

    • $35 - Feeds a student for a week
    • $175 - Feeds a student for a month
    • $375 - Feeds a student for the whole summer

    Donate Today

    Posted by Katie Grace