Home (and hungry) for the holidays: Food for Thought aims to keep kids fed during school break

food for thought

Food for Thought founder and only staff employee, Tiffanie Shelton, wears her Nicole Paloma shirt inside one of her donated food pantry spaces. You can purchase your own Give shirt at Nicole Paloma in Grayton Beach.

Jennie McKeon | The Sun
Published: Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 04:52 PM.

While some families sit down for hearty home-cooked meals during the holidays, Food for Thought founder Tiffanie Shelton is just trying to keep children from being hungry while school is out.

"During Christmas break, some kids will miss well over 20 meals," she said.

Shelton founded Food for Thought three years ago when she was looking to volunteer somewhere with her children. After some "basic Googling" Shelton was startled at the statistics of what food insecurity looked like for children.

She then began a backpack program at Butler Elementary, which provides backpacks full of a weekend's worth of full food — typically some fresh fruit, a loaf of whole wheat bread, peanut butter and healthy snacks. In the non-profit's first year, she served 48 families.

"What we hope to do is meet basic needs so that the kids' minds and bodies can develop," Shelton said. "There's just no way a child can concentrate in school on an empty stomach."

Providing food to 2,000 students in Walton County and with the recent addition of Destin Elementary, Shelton said she is serving the underserved area.

"Government food pantries go to schools with more than 50 percent of children on free or reduced lunches," she explains. "I don't believe you can understand who is the hungrier child. A need is a need no matter where you live."

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