Tiffanie Nelson and her supporters proudly debuted their Food For Thought kitchen Tuesday night with a gala open house.
Located on County Road 393N, the kitchen will serve a dual purpose.
"This is our next project in fighting hunger," said Nelson.
The kitchen is geared toward high school children to meet their immediate need of hunger and to help them with job placement to end their cycle of poverty, she said.
"When I started helping high school children it was a challenge," she said. "It was not easy to get them to come here to give them food because of peer pressure. In high school it is difficult."
Thus was born the idea for the teaching kitchen.
Nelson will work with area schools to set up a schedule of times when students will come to the kitchen.
Six years ago Nelson was a single mom of two with a desire to connect her young children to the needs of their community.
In checking out volunteer opportunities, Nelson learned that there are children who, when away from school-provided meals, do not have access to food.
This led her to the creation of Food For Thought Outreach, a not-for-profit begun at her kitchen table.
Nelson and her community supporters fill backpacks with food and distribute them to students in need at area schools.
"Our goal is to bridge the gap between school meals during weekends and holiday breaks," she said.
FFT currently serves 23 schools in Walton and Okaloosa counties, providing backpacks for 1,700 students each week. The backpacks are offered to every student on a free or reduced-meal plan.
Volunteers of all ages are welcomed.
FFT's volunteer base packs and distributes food, organizes the pantry, and supports FFT's events.
One of the organization's supporters, Keith Howard, said he came on board because, "Anything Tiffanie is involved in, I want to be involved in. If she starts something, it will be top notch and she will see it through," he said.
The FFT Kitchen was built with donations from supporters such as Howard. Nelson will partner with local chefs and William Sonoma in the kitchen.
For more information, such as donation locations, pantry items needed, and opportunities to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.