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Backpacking It

Posted on Sep 01, 2016 in Childhood Hunger , Charity , September-October 2016

A backpack filled with a weekend’s worth of food helps needy families in Walton County through the Food For Thought program. Photo by Jacqueline Ward Images

Seaside prides itself on its wonderful, small town feel. And as any tight-knit community, its merchants, visitors and locals love to give back.

As you walk around town, you may have seen donation boxes at several stores, including Sundog Books, Mercantile and Duckies, encouraging customers to donate spare change to local nonprofits like Food For Thought Outreach.

Food For Thought is a nonprofit organization based in Santa Rosa Beach that provides backpacks filled with healthy, easy to prepare food for students who are dependent on free or reduced school meals. Food For Thought has been working to fight child hunger since 2010, and currently serves 1,500 students across 20 schools in Walton and Okaloosa Counties, including the Seaside Neighborhood School and Seacoast Collegiate High School.

Seaside Associated Stores (SAS) employees have been dedicated volunteers and donors for the past three years. Perspicasity donated $10,000 in April to fight child hunger in Walton County, where 27 percent of children face food insecurity.

“South Walton is viewed as ‘paradise’ and many don’t realize that there are those who live in the community who have suffered misfortunes in life and have great needs. For the staff at SAS, Food For Thought is an important cause to support,” says Erica Gibson Pierce, vice president of Seaside Associated Stores. “Last year the crew gave up their annual Christmas Party and used the funds to buy Christmas presents for more than 100 kids in Walton County. They had so much fun that everyone wanted to do it again this year. I am sure it will become an annual outreach for SAS.”

Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar contributes to Food For Thought, hosting a delicious Summer’s Harvest Benefit Dinner and donating the proceeds. It also chose Food For Thought as the

benefitting charity of the “Summer on 30A” fundraiser.

Most recently, the Seaside Farmers Market has been an advocate and donor of local, fresh produce to include as part of the backpack food items. Food For Thought strives to provide the highest quality food items, and who better to partner with than our local vendors and farmers.

Seaside has grown over the years, but our values remain the same. Building a community means offering a helping hand to those in need. As we move forward, we hope you’ll continue to join us in supporting local nonprofits, like Food For Thought.

For more information on how to help, visit or