• 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
  • Volunteer Spotlight: Marrow Private Chefs

    We are so thankful for our volunteers at here at Food For Thought, and love when people volunteer their passions and talents.  In addition to volunteer opportunities for the backpack program, we also use volunteers in the Full Circle Kitchen and Full Circle Garden.  Today, we would like to thank Richard McCord and Ryan McNay from Marrow Private Chefs for the time the have spent helping in the Full Circle Kitchen and share a little more about them:

    Richard & Ryan run Marrow Private Chefs, a boutique catering company that specializes in preparing restaurant quality, fine dining meals in your home.  These two became involved with FFT in the fall of 2018 while helping with Hurricane Michael relief, providing food to those affected by the hurricane.  After learning more about the FFT program, they both knew they wanted to continue to help in the Full Circle Kitchen to share their love of food and cooking.

    The Marrow guys have lead a quite a few cooking classes for students and they "love getting to interact with the kids! We have truly enjoyed the opportunity to share our passion for food and cooking with the next generation. Whether they have a desire to work in the culinary field or simply want to be a better home cook, it is great to work with kids that want to learn!"

    During one of the classes, they ventured to make homemade taffy, which the students absolutely loved, as well as Ryan and Richard.  They said, "Who doesn’t like homemade starburst?! Aside from that it is incredibly rewarding to work with folks who are so dedicated to helping others!"

    We truly are grateful for the Richard and Ryan who take the time out of their busy catering business to help teach and make an impact on the students who take part in the Full Circle Kitchen.

    You can learn more about how to become a volunteer HERE


    Posted by Katie Grace
  • Paula Deen Visits Food For Thought!

    Last week we at Food For Thought were honored to have Paula Deen stop by the Santa Rosa Beach Pantry! Paula and her foundation, The Bag Lady, graciously donated a $2,500 grant for Food for Thought.  

    We are excited that Paula Deen has opened up two new restaurants in our area, "Paula Deen's Family Kitchen," in Panama City as well as a location at the Destin Commons.  Her new restaurant will also be partnering with Food For Thought to donate un-used or leftover food to be used in the Full Circle Kitchen cooking classes.  This un-used food will be air-sealed so that it can be kept as fresh as possible for the cooking classes. 

    During her visit last week, Paula was able to see and help kids from the Walton Academy cook some of her very own recipes in the Full Circle Kitchen (pork chops and brussel sprouts), and she even leant a hand to the volunteer packing groups that were busy in the pantry prepping backpacks for the weekend.

    Paula Deen Helping in Full Circle Kitchen

    Before leaving, Paula was even so kind to share in a blessing of the meal the students from Walton Academy had prepared.

    We are so thankful for Paula Deen's generosity and look forward to working more together in the future to assist the children in our community.  

    You can find out more information on Paula's visit to her new restaurant on the local news site, WEARTV.

    Posted by Katie Grace
  • Recap: Chi Chi Miguel Weekend!

    We are honored to have been a beneficiary of the 13th Annual Chi Chi Miguel Weekend, which raised over $1 Million for eight Gulf Coast non-profit organizations! We want to give a huge thank you to the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, who organized this fun filled weekend, and who has been a supporter of Food For Thought Outreach for so many years. 

    Chi Chi Miguel Weekend 2019

    During the Chi Chi Miguel Throwdown Benefit Auction and BBQ, two of our students from the Emeril Lagasse Full Circle Kitchen, along with two students from Emeril's Culinary program at the Seaside School cooked and served their own culinary menu to attendees of the fundraiser.  It was great to see how these students are benefiting and learning from these culinary programs in our area, helped made possible by fundraisers like these.

    Chi Chi Miguel Weekend 2019

    Thank you again to all the winemakers, chefs, volunteers and sponsors that made this event possible; it truly was a fun day and an honor to be a part of!

    Chi Chi Miguel

    Emeril Lagasse Foundation


    Posted by Katie Grace
  • Employee Spotlight: Dinelle Putman

    Dinelle Putman

    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. 



    Posted by Katie Grace