Food drive kicks off new school year

Special to The Sun
Food For Thought hopes to fill the shelves at the Stock the Pantry Party Aug. 25.

The third annual Stock the Pantry Party will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Food For Thought Santa Rosa Beach Pantry, 132 Market Street.

The event will feature the Mellow Mushroom Bake Bus, treats from Pop Stop, drinks from Grayton Beer Company, new Food For Thought T-shirts, a raffle with great prizes and fun activities for the entire family.

Guests are asked to bring five food items (suggested items include plastic jars of peanut butter, plastic jars of jelly, granola bars, fruit cups, snack crackers, and/or breakfast bars or $5 for entry into the event.

By joining the Stock the Pantry Party, guests are helping local students in need.

Food For Thought Outreach has rapidly grown over the last six years

from providing backpacks of healthy, easy to prepare food items to six students a week in 2010 to serving over 1,200 students during the 2015-2016 school year with over 1 million food items distributed to children in need in both Okaloosa and Walton counties.

This summer, Food For Thought distributed over 800 bags of food to local families in need and anticipates serving an anticipated 1,500 students a week this upcoming school year — and their pantry shelves will be bare all too soon.

With a growing number of students in need and a rapid increase in providing food over summer break, a nearly empty warehouse is all that is left before the beginning of the school year.

Tiffanie Nelson, founder and executive director, has found a way to restock her organization’s supplies in time for the fast approaching school year while bringing the community together in a family-friendly environment. The event was such a success in its first year that the organization has continued the annual fundraiser and loves the annual food drive competition.

This year, 15 area schools, businesses and churches will compete to collect the most food for Food For Thought Outreach services. Last year, Ohana Institute took first place by a landslide with over 11,300 items. Sandestin Real Estate and Wells Fargo had a tight race for second with Sandestin Real Estate ultimately taking second with 2,931 food items, and Wells Fargo with 2,372 food items.

There are three categories for donations. Food drive sponsors will be competing against one another to see who can collect the most food items. Food For Thought expects this year to be another spirited competition and awards will be given for first, second and third place. For those

businesses who may not be able to collect over 200 items to enter the Food Drive competition, Business Backpack Sponsorships will also be available.

This year, Food For Thought is also adding a Personal Backpack Sponsorship category for individuals and families that would like to donate directly. A $500 donation is requested and the individual, group or business will be recognized at the event.

“Last year, the friendly competition from the food drive sponsors and

record breaking amount of backpack sponsors helped collect over 33,000 food items and $9,400 in sponsorships and donations to kick off the year. We expect to see all our sponsors to continue to challenge themselves in their collection efforts,” Nelson said. “We hope to collect enough food items and donations to serve students for at least six weeks, which is about 90,000 food items. We know our community is up to the challenge!”

Contact Nelson at info@fftfl.org if you are interested in one of the remaining sponsorship opportunities for the Third Annual Stock the Pantry Party or visit www.fftfl.org for more information.