Farmers to Families Food Box Giveaway at NWFL Fairgrounds

Through the coordinated effort of Destin HarvestUnited Way Emerald CoastNorthwest Florida FairFort Walton Beach Police DepartmentBigun’s Hope Disaster Response Services inc, and others, 30,000 pounds of fresh veggies and fruit were distributed out 300 to 400 cars and several local churches and feeding programs this morning. The produce was made available through the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program. We plan to continue this effort at the fairgrounds for as long as the resources last and the need prevails. We are truly fortunate for the leadership and coordination of all our community partners!

This new program is one of three ways DH is responding to the mass hunger needs created by the local economic damages of COVID-19.

To learn more about what DH is doing to address rampant food insecurity in Okaloosa and Walton County in response to the Coronavirus, click on the link below.

To make a donation for COVID-19 Hunger Response CLICK HERE

Here are some pictures and videos of the event this past Saturday at the Northwest Florida Fairgrounds.

Snapshot of USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Giveaway at NWFL Fairgrounds
Forklifting pallets of mixed fruits and veggies off City Produce’s trailer.
Loading up the trunks of cars with boxes straight from the pallets
All 1,200 boxes had the same 25 lbs. of apples, oranges, grapefruit, potatoes, and onions
United Way of Emerald Coast, Destin Harvest, Biggun’s Hope, and Parker Destin.
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COVID-19 and its Impact on Local Hunger in NWFL

Destin Harvest has never experienced the need as great as it is right now. All throughout NWFL, hundreds of families that depend on seasonal work have lost their fulltime income, or are now working minimum hours at reduced wages, due to the devastating economic damages incurred by Coronavirus. These hardworking families and individuals rely on full-time seasonal work to carry them financially for eight months to a year and require additional part-time to full-time work just to have disposable income.  

Local food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, churches, and similar efforts have been overwhelmed by food insecurity prior to COVID-19. Some agencies have reduced their services or closed altogether. The programs that continue to operate are on the front lines every day and cannot possibly meet the mounting need.

DH has been securing more food than ever by partnering with other responders, food banks, and reaching out to new resources to assist in this major crisis. An immediate relief has been Farm Share foods, a statewide program that warehouses top quality perishable and nonperishable foods and provide access for free to feeding programs throughout Florida. Through the assistance of groups such as PERT, Harbor Docks, Event Tents, and many others, DH began mobilizing an additional 50k pounds every week of fresh fruits, vegetables, drinks, eggs, meats, and nonperishable items.

Farm Share Food Drive at Morgans Sports Complex 4/11/2020

DH has been distributing these foods out to recipient feeding programs and organizing mass drive through food box giveaways, jointly with other teams throughout Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton County. DH continues to make Farm Share runs to Quincy weekly and distributes it all out for free to local feeding programs throughout the week.

As Farm Share foods address the needs of local feeding programs, DH is now utilizing another resource to continue to provide for mass drive through food box giveaways. USDA launched a program in direct response to food insecurity nationwide called Farmers to Families Food Box program. USDA is buying up 3 billion in agricultural yield as farmers prepare hundreds of thousands of food boxes. Produce distributors throughout the country are securing the boxed fresh produce from the farmers and delivering directly to feeding sites.

DH is teaming up with United Way of Emerald Coast this Saturday, May 23rd, to distribute 1,200 boxes to cars at the NWFL Fairgrounds in Shalimar. Each box weighs 25 pounds and will be made up of fruits and veggies.

Combining daily food pickups from grocery stores (30k pounds a week), weekly Farm Share runs (20k – 40k pounds a week), and USDA’s FTFFB program (30k pounds a week), DH is currently mobilizing between 80k to 90k pounds of free food into Okaloosa and Walton County every week! These resources and combined efforts have been crucial to addressing the increasing local demand for food.

To learn how you can support our efforts, follow the link below.

COVID-19 Hunger Response Campaign

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