Despite the outward appearance of the property, Jon Kazek saw the potential. Co-owner of Dixon Kazek Morrison Custom Homes, Jon volunteered to work with the City of Destin, the Destin Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Destin to make Food For Thought’s dream of a new pantry and distribution hub a reality.
“At DKM Custom Homes, we select our community projects based on our Christian values,” Kazek said. “We want to partner with organizations and causes that give back to the community. Food For Thought was an easy choice for us because the organization helps hungry kids in need and gives back in a big way. It’s been great to work with the local community and the Rotary and have everyone pitch in for one cause.”
As of January 21, the DKM team estimates that over $20,000 worth of materials, supplies and labor has been donated to the project.
Over 250 volunteer hours have gone toward removing flooring, tearing up broken sidewalks and pavement, building a 784-square-foot extension and installing all new technical and mechanical systems. The Pantry will receive new wheelchair accessible outdoor and indoor ramps, impact windows and doors, LED lighting, a new HVAC system and water heater, new appliances, cabinets, flooring and the new roof was just recently installed.
Kazek said the number one question he’s received since starting work on the project is: “Really? Destin needs a food pantry?”
“People don’t always know what lies below the surface. We live in a beautiful, wealthy community, but on the inside many people are going hungry and we hope this takes a step toward helping those in need,” Kazek said.
The community has welcomed the organization and there has been an outpouring of support from local businesses.
There is still work to be done, however. Food For Thought Outreach will be serving over 600 students each week from the Destin Pantry and an additional 600 students from the Santa Rosa Beach Pantry. Sending 1,200 backpacks filled with healthy, easy-to-prepare food to over 15 different schools in Okaloosa and Walton counties is no small task and Food For Thought will need funds to continue their mission to fight child hunger.
“Our goal is to never turn away a student, family or school in need,” said Tiffanie Nelson, founder and executive director of Food for Thought. “We have expanded from Santa Rosa Beach into Destin and Niceville and now into Fort Walton Beach. Food For Thought will continue to grow and serve local students as the need to bridge the food insecurity gap over the weekends exists.”