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

Published: Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 04:52 PM.

Shelton said she certainly sees the demand for the Food for Thought services beyond Walton and Okaloosa County, but says a lot needs to be done before the young non-profit can take that step.

"I would like to serve elementary to high school," she said. "And teach older kids a skill on top of giving them food — offer more comprehensive services, but that's still years away."

To enroll in the Food for Thought backpack program, children who receive free or reduced lunches go home with a permission slip to be signed by parents. The slips also help determine whether the child has any allergies. Once they are enrolled, backpacks are delivered every Friday, discreetly, to their classrooms.

In the past three years, Shelton has seen a steady rise in permission slips going home.

"With the increase, we are sending out as much food in a week as we were in a month last year," she said.

To help meet that need, Shelton relies on the community. Since Shelton is the only paid Food for Thought employee, volunteers help ensure that backpacks are filled with food and pantries are well organized. Organizations such as Destin Charity Wine Auction help supplement the non-profit's budget. Donations of food, money or even time is always appreciated.

"It takes the entire community to help each other," she said. "And I can't say enough to how helpful this one has been."



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