Outreach Navarre, Inc. dba Weekend Food Program of Navarre was begun in August 2015 when two local moms joined forces to help combat student hunger over the weekends in Navarre. After visiting a program which was servicing several of the south end schools in Gulf Breeze, Michelle Abrams and Tonia Smith approached that organization in hopes of stepping up to aid the Navarre area schools. The Gulf Breeze program agreed and within a month, and funded with money they both deposited within a local church, the grassroots movement was begun with 65 students and one school. Within a few months, five of the six Navarre area schools had signed up for assistance.
In August 2016, the organization decided to move its operations from the local church and into a place more visible and public opening the doors to even more community involvement. The 501c3 organization opened in Navarre at the beginning of the 2016/2017 school year and began serving all 6 local area schools providing meals currently to over 470 local students on a weekly basis throughout the 38-week school year. We accomplish this task through community donations which are solely used to purchase food and through community volunteers who generously donate their time each week to help with bagging our menu. No one is paid within our organization and we use donated spaces for both storage of our resources and for weekly events.
Throughout the year, our local school counselors identify the students who qualify for free lunch, and select the worst cases of those who qualify for reduced lunch and send information to each family about our optional program. Those families then request assistance and each week, we receive only the number of bags needed from each school. We never receive any identifying information about the families or students we serve – everything we do is anonymous.
On Thursday nights, our volunteers come together at the Navarre Youth Sports Complex and bag the weeks menu of shelf stable food products into the designated number of bags. A business card with a note of encouragement is included in each bag every week because we know if there is a need for food assistance, that there are other factors in play as well. On Friday mornings, volunteer drivers deliver totes of bags to school counselors who discretely deliver the bag to a backpack that goes home and provides the child with a stable source of food over the weekend. Our program currently provides 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 snacks and a juice box weekly to each student.
In addition to the food given weekly, our program provides hygiene kits to the schools to help alleviate personal hygiene issues in the student families. Hygiene kits consist of toothbrush, full sized toothpaste, a full-size shampoo and a large bar of soap. All middle and high school hygiene kits include a large deodorant as well.
In 2017, additional snacks began being provided to the middle and high schools to assist teachers who were providing snacks to students out of their own personal pockets. In 2018, the snack program expanded to cover 5 of our 6 local schools and now delivers 1,150 prepackaged snacks per month to each school.
In October 2018, our parent organization Outreach Navarre, Inc. launched it’s first teaching mission based on the Give a man a fish, teach a man to fish proverb. Holley Navarre Middle school is offering a new personal finance curriculum to all 6th grade students - this is funded by our programs!! These students will be learning everything from balancing a checkbook, to creating a budget, entrepreneurship and college/career planning, debt/credit and protecting your identity, and even marketing, investing, insurance and time planning! Our hope it to be able to roll this program to additional schools as funding and approval is gained. Our 6th grade students are embarking on a life changing course ~ we are able to provide all this to our students through support like YOURS!
Our funding is 100% given by our community or raised through various fundraisers during the year. It costs $3.25 per week to feed each child on average, and we will cover 38 weeks of school.
This year estimated funding of $80,000 will be needed to meet the needs of these students and families who otherwise would slip through the cracks as no federal or state funding is available to address their needs as our numbers are not deemed large enough for help. Additional funding for school curriculum costs is in addition to the food program funding.
Weekend Meals for Children $62,500
Hygiene Kits $5,000
Snack Program $12,500
Middle School Personal Finance Curriculum $8,000
Our success is that we receive notes throughout the year from families who were in a hard spot, but with our help, they are able to get back on their feet. Our school counselors communicate the successes and benefits to the students and continue to ask for assistance in new areas of concern.
We operate under the Love Your Neighbor mission, and we look forward to more successful outcomes helping our neighbors. Together we can continue to make a difference in OUR community.