• 2nd Annual Bourbon & BBQ on the Bayou


    2nd Annual Bourbon & BBQ on the Bayou Success! 

    On Saturday, March 9th, more than 100 guests gathered at the waterfront home of Jack and Carli Harman for the 2nd Annual Bourbon and BBQ on the Bayou, an event that supported Food For Thought Outreach. The Harmans put together an amazing lineup for the occasion, featuring food from The Marrow Private Chefs, bourbon from Angel's Envy, and beautiful florals from Forget Me Knot Event Florals & Rentals. The Harmans have been passionate advocates of the organization for over a decade, serving as volunteers and donors. Carli recently joined the Board of Directors in 2023. The goal of this private, fundraising event was to raise awareness of the needs of the community, and the scope of services provided to thousands of food-insecure children. The Harmans aimed to create "Champions" for the children who rely on these critical resources, not just to raise funds. As guests gathered, Carli shared her experiences volunteering in the schools served by Food For Thought Outreach. She recounted a touching moment when a young boy approached her during a Friday morning delivery. The boy expressed how much the bags of food that Carli had with her helped him. He made sure that she knew where his classroom was located so she didn't forget to drop one off for him. Carli was deeply moved by this encounter, and she wanted to become a "Champion" for the boy and all the kids like him who sincerely depend on the services provided by Food For Thought. To achieve this, in partnership with the organization, the ABC campaign was introduced at the event, "Annual Backpack Champions," which provides donors with an opportunity to become a recurring annual donor for the backpack program. Guests enjoyed food, drinks, and music from Chris Curles & Saltwater Revival. They danced the night away and donated generously. The 2nd Annual Bourbon and BBQ on the Bayou raised over $50,000 for Food For Thought.

    Posted by Tiffanie Nelson
  • Premier Property Group Offers Matching Donation!

    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! 


    Posted by Tiffanie Nelson
  • Meet Our Culinary Instructor, Chef Ashlyn Hicks

    Photo of Chef Ashlyn

    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.

    Photo of our Chef welcoming students into the kitchen for class Photo of our Chef working in the kitchen demonstrating knife skills to a group of students Photo of our Chef teaching student how to make a refreshing drink

    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.

    Posted by Sydney Bassett
  • 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.

    Food for Thought Founder, Tiffanie Nelson, accepts a check from the St. Joe Community Foundation

    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 support@fftfl.org.

    Posted by Sydney Bassett
  • Hammock Bay Pickleball Club Men's, Women's and Mixed Doubles Tournament

    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.

    Click Here to Register to Play

    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!

    Posted by Sydney Bassett