Maintaining Outreach During Social Distancing

With no end in sight for school closures and local unemployment numbers rising exponentially, Outer Banks Food for Thought board members voted to modify their packing and delivery methods to continue serving at-risk students.

Photo credit Jeanne Brook

Typically, each Thursday would see about 30 volunteers standing shoulder-to-shoulder in assembly line fashion to pack about 350 bags of non-perishable groceries to be distributed in each school. Linda White, Food for Thought board member, describes the usual packing process, “We used to blow it out in 45 minutes. Now, it takes three days. We spend about five hours because we pack in small teams.”

Photo credit Jeanne Brook

Often, the packing teams are families are already in isolation together. But, when the small teams are non-family members, everyone is gloved, masked, and six or more feet apart. “Not only are our volunteers putting themselves on the front line and doing more with fewer people, but we’ve added more kids to feed,” says Linda White, Food for Thought board member.

Photo credit Jeanne Brook

Murray says, “The board thought long and hard about how we could continue serving the community without putting our own volunteers at risk. But our kids are the ones who suffer most when schools are closed. With so many parents out of work now, we are providing for about 550 instead of our usual 350 students.”

Photo credit Jeanne Brook

The process for school children to receive Food for Thought donations has been simplified to match the imminent needs of area families. On Thursdays, any student in need may also request a Food for Thought weekend bag at the Dare County School system’s meal distribution sites. The county continues to distribute its full meal service on from 11:30 a.m. -1:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Cape Hatteras Elementary School, Manteo Elementary School and First Flight Elementary School.

Photo credit Margaret Lawler

“They do not have to be signed up for Food for Thought. On Thursdays, we give bags to anyone who needs help; we don’t want anyone to go hungry while they are trying to learn,” says President, Murray.

Important Announcement Regarding Annual Membership Luncheon

Notice of Cancellation of our Annual Membership Luncheon:
Due to the spread of COVID-19 and instructions to avoid large gatherings, we have made the decision to cancel the luncheon scheduled for March 24, 2020.  If you have reserved your spot and paid with a check, it will be returned to you along with our Annual Report. We hope to reschedule in the fall.  Stay Well.  Bobbie Murray, President FFT

All Saints’ After Dark Series 2019 Donation

Many thanks to All Saints’ Episcopal Church for their recent donation. Pictured above are Bobbie Murray, Food for Thought President, and Food for Thought Board Member, Bob Baldwin. The After Dark Series at All Saints’ offers a wide range of courses and workshops on cooking, history, music, dance and art during the winter months. Proceeds are given back to the community through outreach programs. Thank you All Saints’ for thinking of FFT!

Food For Thought Celebrates 12 Years Helping Dare County Children

On Sunday, August 19, 2018, Food For Thought celebrated its 12th anniversary at their 2nd annual Back to School Beach Party Fundraiser at Duck Woods Country Club.

The casual fun event included dinner, drinks, and both silent & live auctions. All proceeds from ticket sales and auctions helped to purchase food for weekend meals.

Where did it all begin?

“Twelve years ago, too many children on the Outer Banks were going hungry,” said Linda White, president of Food for Thought. “And it is a known fact that proper nutrition is key to learning and thriving. That’s why Food for Thought was born. Thanks to our community’s generosity, this all-volunteer non-profit has fed more than 6300 children, providing healthy meals to build strong minds since its inception in February 2006.  Today, it provides two healthy non-perishable breakfasts, lunches and fresh fruit each weekend to youth who qualify for free and reduced breakfasts and lunches in all Dare County schools.”

How did it get started?  At the end of a bible study class, Helen Ford and Ed Hazlett, then Southern Shores residents and Duck United Methodist Church members, agreed they needed to do something for their community.  After seeing an ad in the The Virginian-Pilot about an after school program in Virginia Beach, they decided to see if there was such a need on the Outer Banks.  The answer was yes.

“We met with leaders in Dare County Social Services and schools and it was determined there was a significant need,” said Helen ford, co-founder of Food for Thought.  “The solution?  Healthy, weekend meals with fresh fruit as developed by the Dare County Schools nutritionist.  A plan and resources were developed and community partners were brought on board to initiate a pilot.”

The pilot served 54 children who met specific criteria at Manteo Elementary School.  It was so successful that it was expanded that fall to encompass all five elementary schools in Dare County – Cape Hatteras, First Flight, Kitty Hawk, Nags Head and Manteo plus all Head Start youth, three high schools and two middle schools.  When the program started, one in four Dare County elementary children was eligible for free or reduced breakfasts and lunches at school.  Today, the number of all Dare County youth eligible is about 37% versus when Food for Thought began in 2006.

The number of volunteers has risen from 80 from one church to 300 volunteers from 13 organizations. They pack weekend meal bags each week, order, receive and set up food and help staff special events.

The number of community partners – area businesses, government, media and community organizations, which has risen from two to 41, share an array of in-kind services and support including: accounting services, legal services, graphic design, printing, dental hygiene products, storage and transportation of food, media coverage, campaign promotional materials and special events.

Over the twelve years, the non-profit has collaborated with more than 100 community groups to benefit Food for Thought, raising awareness and proceeds to help area youth.  All funds are used to feed the children.

A few years ago, working with all high schools and middle schools to meet yet another need, the organization initiated the first mini pantries to provide personal items to help area youth.  Recently made aware of yet another concern, Food for Thought is working to obtain some much needed outer garments for area youth.

With an active 13-member volunteer board, Food for Thought makes about 25 annual presentations to help spread the word, has an annual membership meeting, and develops a monthly educational newsletter, Healthy Hints, in partnership with Dare County Department of Health, and a related newspaper column.

Food for Thought is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that provides healthy non-perishable breakfasts and lunches for more than 500 pre-school, elementary, middle and some high school students who meet specific criteria in Dare County on weekends during the school year.   Over the years, it has been recognized by a number of prominent organizations throughout the region, state and community.

Towne Bank to Sponsor a Table at Back to School Beach Party August 2018

Pictured are Taylor Sugg of Towne Bank and Linda White, Food For Thought President.

Food For Thought would like to thank Taylor Sugg and Towne Bank for their generosity and continued support of our program. Towne Bank will be sponsoring a table at our Back to School Beach party which will be held at Duck Woods Country Club on August 19. Tickets will be going on sale soon. Check back soon for details.

All Saints Provides Donation from After Dark Series

Proceeds from a portion of the 2018 After Dark Series were donated to Food For Thought.

Many thanks to All Saints Episcopal Church for their recent donation. Pictured above are Linda White, Food for Thought President, and Bob Baldwin. The After Dark Series at All Saints’ just had it’s 9th consecutive year. By offering a wide range of courses and workshops on cooking, history, music, dance and art during the winter months, proceeds are given back to the community through outreach programs. Thank you All Saints for thinking of FFT!

Food for Thought Thanks Rooster’s Southern Kitchen for Hosting Bourbon Tasting

Many thanks to Rooster’s Southern Kitchen for supporting Food For Thought. Last Friday, March 2, they hosted a “Spirits for Giving” Bourbon tasting. The event included 6 bourbon tastings and appetizers. Jason Bradley with Heaven Hill Distillery led an informative tasting. 100% of ticket proceeds and 10% of dining sales went to FFT. We are so grateful to all who attended this great event! Pictured from left to right: Sue Woolard-Owner of Rooster’s Southern Kitchen, Nathan Ladd- First Bank Branch Manager, JoAnn Small-Food for Thought Board Member, Kenny Marshall-First Bank Senior Vice President & City Executive, Jillian Kalis-First Bank Personal Banker, and Laurel Anne Darden-First Bank Personal Banker.

Food For Thought Thanks Salvation Army for Generous Donation

We are pleased to announce that we recently received a wonderful donation from the Salvation Army when they came to visit our packing facility. They were kind enough to provide us with a donation that will feed 36 children for a year! Featured in the photo from left to right are Bobbie Murray-Food For Thought Board Member, Linda White-President of Food For Thought, Captain Kenny Igleheart-Corps Officer of Salvation Army, and Becky Harrell-Salvation Army board member. Many thanks to the Salvation Army for their wonderful generosity.

Food For Thought Thanks Village Realty for their Valentine’s Day Toothbrush Challenge

Thanks to the generosity of everyone at Village Realty, Food for Thought will send new toothbrushes home with week-end meals to over 500 Dare County school children-in-need.  Through their “Valentine’s Challenge,” toothbrushes, dental floss, and toothpaste were also collected for the middle school and high school Personal Products Pantries.  Thank you to the Village Realty organizers Dru Ferrence, Jessica Evans, and Priscilla Deming.

Thanks to generous donors, Food for Thought has helped feed more than 5,900 children healthy meals, building strong minds on the Outer Banks over the last 11 years.

Village Realty Valentine’s Challenge To Benefit Food For Thought

Village Realty Valentine's Challenge for Food for Thought OBX Our 2018 Valentine’s Day challenge is to collect 600 toothbrushes to place in each child’s meal bag once a year. We are grateful to Village Realty for sponsoring this challenge. Collection boxes are in Village Realty offices or you can call us for pick up. Cash donations are accepted and will be used to purchase toothpaste. We need new and individually packaged toothbrushes only please.