Starting in March 2020, we at Food For Thought shifted away from our long established weekly backpack program to curbside food distributions. Curbside services ensured that we could continue to provide access to food to the children we serve while schools were closed and students were learning from home.
Food For Thought increased the quantity of food to up to 50 full size food items a week provided to each family as the economic impacts of COVID persisted. Distribution of fresh produce during this time more than doubled as families continued to struggle to make room in their budgets for fruits and vegetables.
In the past year, our Food For Thought team hosted 130 curbside food distributions and distributed more than 120,000 food items along with an additional 28,000 fresh produce items. For nine months, FFT offered weekly curbside food distribution points across five locations across Walton and Okaloosa Counties and at our peak, served 600 families a month.
Now, we are slowly, but confidently, returning to their backpack program.
As of January, Food For Thought has returned direct-to-student weekly delivery in 20 out of 35 schools, while continuing curbside in the communities where we still cannot enter schools and for students who have continued virtual learning.
More than 1,800 bags are being distributed weekly through the backpack program and we are continuing to serve 280 families a month through curbside services in addition to the weekly backpacks. As of March 2021, we are now distributing more than 25,000 food and produce items every week with both programs.