Fireworks and philanthropy combine Thursday on Destin harbor

Staff Writer
The Destin Log

HarborWalk Village will honor "Food for Thought" this Thursday night during the Red, White and Blue Celebration.

This celebration, which culminates with a fireworks show over Destin harbor, highlights the accomplishments of local individuals and groups that have gone above and beyond to better the community. For the past three years Tiffanie Shelton, Food for Thought founder, has been serving local children that are considered food insecure. 'Food insecure' as defined by the United States Department of Security, is when "consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year."

In Okaloosa County alone, 23.2 percent of children are food insecure, which translates to 9,510 children in our immediate area. In Walton County, 25 percent, or 2,790, children are considered food insecure. It is hard to imagine when living in paradise that there are others in our community that go to bed hungry every night, which is what motivates Shelton and her organization. They have created a program called The Backpack Program, which provides food insecure students with six meals and two snacks every Friday- enough to get them through the weekend.

At the end of the 2012 school year, the organization filled the backpacks of 345 children a week in Okaloosa County and 47 a week in Walton County. On average, these backpacks cost $3.50 to fill and are distributed in Butler, Destin, and Bay elementary schools.

As part of their Red, White and Blue Celebration on Thursday night, Food for Thought and HarborWalk Village request that guests attending the festivities bring either food or monetary donations to help support this program. Specific requests include peanut butter, jelly, pop top soup, tuna or chicken, granola bars, packaged crackers and fruit cups. No glass containers can be accepted.

As Shelton stated, "These children live in homes without enough food to eat and they depend on the school for free or reduced meals." Food for Thought works to help these same children, and depend on the support of local businesses, residents, events and grants to fund their efforts. The numbers are clear. There are still more rumbling bellies to be fed, and with the community backing organizations such as Food for Thought, the goal of ending food insecurity gets closer every day.