Fact Friday: Did you know? Over the last school year 300 students were able to take home fresh produce from our Full Circle Gardens? We are striving to be able to allow kids to cook with fresh produce in the Emeril Lagasse Full Circle Kitchen, as well as provide more fresh produce from our gardens.
Thank you, Shoreline Church for your day of service at the Destin Pantry! We are so grateful for your time to come clean up the outside, build us a new shed for the garden, and also for your 638 Food Donations, which will help kick off the new school year. We appreciated you giving back to your community! Look below to see all the hard work their team put in on a hot Saturday afternoon cleaning up outside of the Destin Pantry and even building a beautiful new shed!
Spring (and almost summer!) has most definitely sprung within our Full Circle Gardens. Carrots, kale, herbs, tomatoes and an assortment of other vegetables are currently being harvested from our Destin and Walton Academy Gardens. With all of these vegetables, we have been able to use these veggies in our Emeril Lagasse Full Circle Cooking Classes. It is great to be able to teach the students how to use what is available to you in your recipes, and to show them exactly where their food is coming from.
Just take a look at the Destin Garden (as of mid-May):
Here is vegetable output from both the Destin and Walton Academy Garden:
Stay tuned to see some of the finished meals using these ingredients!
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.
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!
In order to keep all of the Food For Thought programs in order, there is a lot of action that takes place behind the scenes, and Dinelle Putman keeps all things "programmatic" going as the Food For Thought Program Director.
For the last year, Dinelle has worked as the Program Director, overseeing all five of the year-round programs here at Food for Thought. This includes managing and directing a team for the Backpack, Snack and Summer Programs, as well as overseeing the Full-Circle Kitchen and Full-Circle Garden. Dinelle ensures that each of these programs has all of the resources necessary and that they are running efficiently as each program has been growing. Being the Program Director here at Food For Thought is an integral part of making sure Food For Thought Outreach continues to meet the needs of the kids in our community.
Dinelle has not always worked in the non-profit sector, but has always been drawn to, and had the desire to work for a non-profit or mission of some sort. After serving as a volunteer for Food For Thought through the bank she managed, Dinelle was drawn to the mission of FFT and began to look into more opportunities to work or serve. She was pleasantly surprised when, in March of 2018, there was a full-time position available for a Program Manager. Her 15 years of banking experience, the last three of which as an assistant branch manager, has lent her well to be able to direct the four programs at Food for Thought.
Working at Food For Thought has allowed Dinelle to feel like she has a career that has meaning and purpose, and she loves that she is also able to be a part of and give back to her community. Dinelle is looking forward to being part of the growth of Food For Thought, and excited for the new warehouse to open in DeFuniak Springs, allowing FFT to better serve the kids in Walton County.