Dear friends of BEAM,
As I arrived at the BEAM offices on a recent morning, I found our Garden Manager, Mary Ellen pulling weeds and checking on the progress in the vegetable beds. The plants were glistening in the early morning sun, and the space was full of new beginnings and possibilities. It was a wonderful sight to behold at the start of the day, and reminded me of how fortunate I feel to be joining this amazing organization! With just a few weeks in, I continue to learn the scope and breadth of all that happens and am hearing about all the people who are touched by the programs and opportunities that make up BEAM. I am truly in awe of the dedicated and hardworking volunteers I’ve had the opportunity to meet so far. They bring such obvious joy to the day to day work that is our mission. I feel very blessed to be here at BEAM! I’ve been introduced to some exciting accomplishments in my first few days. Mayport Market is an exciting new adventure for BEAM, made possible by a wonderful partnership with the staff at Mayport Elementary, Palms Presbyterian Church and Publix Supermarket Charities.
Each Wednesday afternoon during early release time, BEAM staff and Palms volunteers create a mini farmers market where the elementary students and their families choose healthy foods to supplement their grocery expenses. The Mayport Market is important to the healthy choice options available to families living in a “food desert”.
Last week, the second group of women in our Single Parent Program celebrated all the goals they achieved during their first 16 weeks in the program. One parent participant, Keshonna, shared how she was able to stay employed in her current job through a collaborative effort with BEAM and Prodigy Child Care Center that allowed her to have reliable child care when her unstable child care fell through. This program is fairly new to BEAM, and is a wonderful example of how the organization has matured to be focused not only on meeting emergency needs but assisting families on building a more self-sufficient future. Everyone who helps assure that the resources are available to make this new program happen shares in her success.
If you have not already heard, BEAM is fortunate to be a part of the Tour de Farm event on November 19th. It is an honor for our Grace Garden to be invited to participate in this Slow Food First Coast event. This is the second time BEAM has been invited to open our garden and facilities to “foodies” from all over Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties. Join us for a fun-filled morning of beautiful vegetables, taste tastings and seed starting! For more information, watch our Facebook page. We hope to see you there.
BEAM Thrift will be gearing up for all of the upcoming holidays. You’ll begin to see Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations, linensand festive “UglySweaters” very soonin allthree stores. It’s an especially fun time in the stores. Our usual cheerful and helpful volunteers become Santa’s best elves once the Christmas music starts to play.
Black Friday and Small Business Saturday was crazybusy last year, so if you’re planning on coming in, be sure to get here early! There are sure to be lots of bargains all around. Be sure to get all your Christmas décor donations in as soon as you can.
Thinking about donating your artificial tree? Bring it in to us. We would love to have it!
The Grace Garden is recovering nicely from a series of weather events. Though Irma left a mess, most of the damaged plants were summer crops that we going to remove. However, we will miss our pepper plants. Fall and winter are our best growing seasons. We are currently planting broccoli, kale, beets, carrots, collards and cabbage. These, in addition, to our tomato and asparagus plants already in the ground are exciting to watch grow!
We disassembled the towers and stored them in the greenhouse during the storm. We also removed our shade clothes and sun screens. We spent a weekend cleaning and putting everything back together, what a job!! I do not know what we would do without our wonderful volunteers. Now they are fully planted with an expanded nutrient system, so let’s watch them grow. They are planted with baby kale, lettuce, parsley and cilantro.
There are many exciting events planned for the garden; dinners, welcoming ceremonies and The Tour de Farm. Mark your calendars for November 19 and check the website for other volunteer opportunities.
At this year’s Back to School with BEAM event, we were able to provide clothes, underwear, school supplies and backpacks, and new books to nearly 700 children. We also delivered more than 300 backpacks full of school supplies and some clothes to clients, schools and other social service agencies that requested them for their children. Special thank you to all donors and volunteers who helped make this possible!
More than 40% of children who attend Mayport Elementary receive free or reduced lunch, which is also located in a USDA defined food desert, a neighborhood that lacks healthy and affordable food sources. With the goal of helping to alleviate food insecurity for low income children in a vulnerable community, we forged a new partnership with Publix Super Market Charities, Palms Presbyterian Church and Mayport Elementary School/Duval County Public Schools to create an innovative mobile food pantry called Mayport Market. Each Duval County early release day, Mayport Market is open to any family of current students. Nearly twice a month, these children and families are provided with fresh produce from BEAM’s Grace Garden and pantry staples from our grocery recovery program coupled with nutrition education led by BEAM’s full time Registered Dietitian. Publix Super Market Charities has generously donated to this pilot program to improve the long-term health of low-income children, and our partners at Palms Presbyterian volunteer their time to help with set-up and distribution.
Our first market day was very successful as we had more than 250 families attend and distributed more than 1,800 pounds of groceries. Our Registered Dietitian Rachel McCandless made Helushi, a Polish cabbage and noodle dish, to entice the kids to try the cabbage, which was a surplus vegetable received from Feeding Northeast Florida that week. Similar food tastings and recipe cards will be provided at each market.
Rachel’s future nutrition lessons will include ways to “eat the rainbow” (i.e. fruits and vegetables), the nutritional cost of drinking sodas and juices and how to engage picky eaters to try new foods.
In addition, we’d like to acknowledge Principal Amy Cline for her ongoing support and for giving us the opportunity to provide food assistance to children who often go without adequate nutrition.
Do you find yourself with a surplus of canned tuna leftover from hurricane Irma and unsure what to do with it?
Below are our two favorite resources for what to do with all of your stockpiled canned tuna bought for storm supplies. Enjoy!
Labor day is approaching, and for us that means it is time to breakout the grill! Don't have any BBQ sauce at home? Try this recipe and make it at home! Use it on steaks, pork, salmon, chicken or anything else you throw on the grill.
Basic Barbeque Sauce Yield: 3 Cups
Mirin (Sweet Sake)
Hot Red Chilies, Dried, Seeds Removed
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
¼ Cup (firmly packed)
2 each or to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until sauce is dark, thick and rich, stirring frequently to keep from burning.
- Adjust sweetness, sourness and hot pepper to taste.
Side Dishes on the Grill
When we think of grilling, we think of meat- big Flintstone sized hunks of it. But, veggies and fruits are great on the grill too! In fact, if you balance out your plate with produce, your brontosaurus steak can fit right in with your health goals. When grilling veggies, don’t forget the flavor! Salad dressings make a great marinade or try a dry spice rub. Almost any dried spice blend will do; try lemon pepper, Cajun spice or even a toss in curry paste. Always turn frequently to get that smoky char without burning your dinner! Some ideas for great grilled sides:
- Corn on the cob- place directly on the grill and rotate to get grill “stripes” down the length of the cob. Serve with a sprinkle of chili powder and a squeeze of lime.
- Potatoes or sweet potatoes- cut large ones in half then pierce with a fork all over, roll in oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place directly on the grill grate or wrap in foil and place in the coals.
- Asparagus cooks well lain crosswise across the grill grates to keep from falling into the flame.
- Vegetable skewers- fast and convenient; use similar sized items so that they cook evenly. Whole mushroom, cherry tomato, yellow pepper and onion skewers go great with that steak!
- For smaller vegetable pieces, foil packets are the way to go. Just use a double layer of foil to keep them from bursting.
- Salad on the grill! Grill romaine lettuce halves for 2-3 minutes or just until slightly wilted. Serve with Caesar dressing and parmesan cheese or with blue cheese dressing and chopped bacon pieces.
Whatever you decide to grill, remember main reason why we BBQ—being outside in the fresh air with the company of good friends and family is the best seasoning that any meal could have!
The Chef and the Dietitian
This year’s Back to School with BEAM event was held on Saturday, August 5th at Beach Church (325 7th Ave. N., Jacksonville Beach). BEAM welcomed several hundred families and served almost 1,000 children, ages pre-school through high school, who are residents in the communities of Mayport, Atlantic, Neptune, Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beaches. Back to School with BEAM is one of the organizations many annual events that help low-income families.
This was the 24th year that BEAM has provided children with much-needed necessities including new backpacks and grade-appropriate school supplies, new underwear, a voucher for a new pair of shoes, and an opportunity to “shop for free” for new and gently used clothing. One parent who came to the event commented, “Back to School with BEAM helped provide us with things we needed and we don’t spend as much money and we can save up. The best part was the help from all the volunteers.” Volunteer, Carolyn Seymour, who helped at the backpack station said, “The community support never ceases to amaze me. It never gets old watching the excitement on the faces on the children when they select their backpack.”
This event is truly a community event and it is only people thanks to the amazing people right here in our community. Partners for this year’s event included: Beach Church, Beaches Community Fund, Beaches Resource Center, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, Community Presbyterian Church, Deerwood Rotary, The Exchange Club, First Christian Church of the Beaches, JAX Chamber Beaches Division, Malik’s Gifts, Oceanside Rotary, READ USA, Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach and Target (Jacksonville Beach).
Charles is a single father of a 3 year old son who is attending the new Early Headstart Program in Jacksonville Beach. When we first met him, he and his son were residing in a downtown shelter. His son’s mother had suddenly abandoned the child in New York, and Charles lost his job due to the time he took off to bring his son back to Florida.
He was referred to BEAM through the Early Headstart Program. We were able to assist him with clothes and shoes appropriate for interviewing and connected him to a local business looking for help. Charles got the job and is on his way to providing a stable home for his son.
It is thanks to you that we are able to give people like Charles a helping hand when they are going through emergencies. Through our programs and by connecting clients to other resources, we are able to work as a safety net on their journey towards self-sufficiency.
As we begin our Spring & Summer season, please keep BEAM Thrift in mind as begin your spring cleaning. We are in the most need of:
- Women’s summer clothing (tops, shorts, and shoes in particular)
- Men’s shorts & shirts
- Children’s shorts & tops
We accept donations at the 7North location Monday – Saturday from 9AM – 5PM. Our trucks are available for pick-up of large donations such as furniture. To schedule a pick-up, please call Judy at 904-853-6246.
Shoppers came out in great numbers to help celebrate our 1st Anniversary Tent Event at the 7North location and enjoyed all the beautiful weather, hot dogs and great deals. Thank you for making 2016 a great year for BEAM Thrift!
Trey is a father of two young children and takes time out once a week to come volunteer at BEAM helping clients with food stamp and Medicaid applications.
"I am relatively new to the BEAM family. I am honored to be the volunteer spotlight. Between balancing family life and pursuing a Master’s degree in social work in a distant learning program at FSU I would say I am a busy individual. BEAM makes it a point to put the volunteer first, which allows people with busy schedules to give back to their community. When you think life is too busy, think again because BEAM has a spot for you on their team and you won’t regret it. BEAM has given me the opportunity to jumpstart my “helping” profession by giving back to my local community. I am excited to grow with BEAM and to continue serving my community.”
The winter growing season has been prolific! The cold nights and sunny days have given us a bug and disease free growing season. We have had a steady crop of kale, collard greens, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, peas and lots of fragrant winter herbs.
Over the past few months we have been working on a new project, partnering with the City of Atlantic Beach, The Clinton Foundation Health Matters Initiative, Jacksonville University, and Atlantic Beach Urban Farms to bring a weekly farmers market to Mayport residents. Mayport has been identified as a “food desert” by the USDA; indicating a low-income area with limited access to healthy food due to the absence of grocery stores and limited access to transportation. The Atlantic Beach City Market opened February 17 and BEAM participated with a wonderful selection of Grace Garden produce available for sale. We are proud to be able to offer fresh, healthy food to our Mayport clients. In addition, shoppers who use SNAP or EBT will be able to double their benefits to purchase up to $20 of locally grown produce each week. We envision the new market, located at the southwest corner of Mayport Road and Dutton Island Road, as a gathering place for the entire community. Please come by and check it out!
With a new spring growing season approaching we are busy starting our tomato and pepper seeds in the greenhouse, as well as planting potatoes outside. Next we will start squash and cucumber followed by eggplant and okra. Remember, volunteering in Grace Garden is a great way to hone (or develop) your gardening skills. Please consider volunteering. You’ll learn a lot and have a great time!
BEAM has started a partnership with the First Coast YMCA to help
implement the yearlong CDC-recognized Diabetes Prevention Program in our community. Participants meet weekly for lessons on healthy lifestyle behaviors, barriers to change and group support in facilitating that change. At each meeting, BEAM provides a healthy dinner and last week the clients got to harvest their own greens from the garden tower to make the salad for dinner.