Beginning in 2014, we incorporated a full-time Registered Dietitian on staff to work alongside our clients and to provide nutrition education to the community. The Paths to Wellness program has three main goals: to provide prescriptive guidance to those with nutrition-related diseases (such as diabetes or hypertension), to provide preventative education to those who are at risk and to facilitate direct outreach to the community through mobile food pantries and community events.
2017 highlights include:
- Biweekly one on one case management support with 61 individual clients and our Registered Dietitian to learn how to incorporate dietary changes resulting in better health outcomes.
- A new partnership with the YMCA to spearhead a yearlong Diabetes Prevention Program.
- Food tastings and nutrition education at BEAM’s new mobile food pantry at Mayport Elementary School each early release school day.
- 20 University of North Florida Department of Nutrition and Dietetics students worked closely with our dietitian to provide evidence-based education to food pantry clients.
Started in 2014, the Single Parent Program was a strategy designed to assist one of BEAM’s largest demographics, single mothers. By providing one on one case management and wraparound services, BEAM developed this program to intentionally work with single mothers in the beaches community to lead them to a life of self sufficiency.
Program participants agree to meet on a weekly basis for intensive workshops to provide them with the tools they need to increase credit scores, manage debt, develop career goals and work towards advanced schooling opportunities.
In 2017, we celebrated a milestone for the SingleParent Program and more importantly for Nekia, a three year program participant who graduated with a Surgical Technology Workforce Certificate from Florida State College at Jacksonville. She was one of the first in her class to land a job working for a local healthcare system increasing her salary 60%.
To date, we have had 36 single parents and 113 children participate in the program to gain self sufficiency.
A large part of BEAM’s work in our community is to assist hardworking families by providing rent and utility assistance when times are tough and budgets are strained. In 2017, we were able to assist more than 800 families by keeping them in their homes and their children safe.
In addition, one of our busiest times during the year was post Hurricane Irma and the devastation it caused for many. With support from the First Coast Relief Fund and our donors, we were able to provide additional financial resources to those who were impacted by the storm.
We aided 92 families affected by the storm with rent or utility help for reasons such as lost wages, damage to their homes, or unplanned evacuation expenses.
Below is just one story of a client we helped this year:
Eddie, a father of two, came to BEAM looking for assistance. It had been an emotional few months for his family as he and his wife found out their second child was diagnosed with a rare cardiac condition requiring open heart surgery at just 4 weeks old. Eddie was forced to take a leave of absence from his civilian position with the Navy to focus on his family. Before he knew it, bills piled up and he was three months behind on his rent, his car insurance had lapsed and his phone had been cut off. BEAM was able to provide Eddie with rent assistance and a few referrals to local partners that helped meet his other financial needs. Eddie was able to catch up on his bills, go back at work, and we hear his baby boy is doing great!
Our efforts to feed the hungry are ever expanding, and one way we are providing nutrition to our neighbors in need is through our Beaches Community Food Bank. Established in 2016 in partnership with Feeding Northeast Florida, the food bank functions as a grocery recovery distribution center located behind our 7north thrift store in Jacksonville Beach. It is the only one of its kind within a 30 miles radius of our beaches area, which is significant for food recovery with a very short shelf life.
Last year alone we collected, inspected and redistributed more than 749,000 pounds of food from grocery stores and food drives to our clients’ dinner tables. Over 400,000 pounds alone went to our two client-choice food pantries, which served more than 2,600 beaches residents last year. The remaining went to agencies such as Alimancani Elementary School’s PTA weekend backpack program, senior housing sites, the Rhoda Martin Headstart program and numerous mobile food pantry sites.
In 2017 we introduced “mobile pantry sites” to get food into the hands of individuals who need it most. This approach requires staff and volunteers to bundle, transport and drop off pallets of food at partner locations on a regular basis, including Pablo Towers, Pablo Hamlet, St John the Baptist Catholic Church and Mayport Elementary School.
Last August, media outlet CNN.com filmed BEAM staff and our 7,200 square foot Grace Garden for a video featuring our unique “garden to food pantry” approach. They highlighted our ability to grow and to provide healthy food to people on a limited income, which both gratified and reinforced the important work we are doing to assist our food insecure neighbors.
Thank you for partnering with BEAM to help our most vulnerable community members avoid homelessness, provide food in their homes, and find assistance in so many significant ways!
Over the last several years, BEAM has been in a constant state of evolution and growth, and in 2017 experienced some significant changes. I would like to extend sincere appreciation to past Executive Director Susan King and longtime Board Chair Paul Lambert for their years of unwavering vision and leadership, which has taken BEAM to its new heights.
It is my distinct pleasure to work with our new Executive Director Lori Richards, who brings impressive nonprofit management tenure and is offering expert guidance to BEAM. She is committed to our mission and is focused on maintaining and refining the meaningful work performed every day by our talented staff and dedicated volunteers.
BEAM strives to contribute to the strength and well being of our community. We have much to be proud of in our efforts to provide hope and help to our beaches neighbors and I invite you to celebrate our many accomplishments. On behalf of our Board of Directors, thank you to our generous donors and dedicated volunteers for making our success possible.
2018 Board of Directors Chair
Do you know what it means to be food insecure? Check out these 7 facts from Upworthy.
From the Dietitian:
It’s January again, where did the time go? After all of the excesses of the holidays, a new calendar is like a clean slate, a “do-over” to fix our previous mistakes. About half of us make New Year’s resolutions; we want to lose weight, quit smoking, spend less or get fit or organized in the new year. One thing these goals have in common is that they are all related to our habits, the small actions we repeatedly do or don’t do that add up over time. For example, one can of soda is only 150 calories, you probably don’t even think about it. But, one soda every day can add up to an extra 15 pounds of body fat at the end of the year.
Changing your habits seems easy on January 1st, but by February or March, not so much. Life gets in the way and we abandon our goals for our old familiar patterns. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. With a little patience and planning, you can be your own success story.
Here are six tips to help you to succeed with whatever your New Year’s resolution:
- Make a specific plan for the journey, not just the destination. How can you get to where you want to go if you don’t have a map of how to get there? “I’m going to go to the gym 4 hours every week” is a lot easier to achieve than “I’m going to get fit”.
- Relying on willpower alone doesn’t work; stress or bad days will happen and you’ll be tempted to resume your comforting old habits. Keep a list of actions that you enjoy doing to replace the one you used to perform automatically. For example, when your boss stresses you out, walk around the building or call a friend rather than go out for a cigarette or to the break room for a donut.
- Don’t try to do everything at once. Break it down into small, achievable chunks to keep from getting discouraged. “I’m going to clean and organize everything” seems overwhelming compared to “This week, I’m going to clean out the bedroom closet”.
- Trying to be perfect 100% of the time is one of the main reasons we abandon our goals come February. Instead, try the 80/20 approach. If you’ve made good choices 80% of the time, pat yourself on the back, then work to gradually increase to 90%, then more. Knowing you have a treat planned for a bedtime snack can help you to avoid the cake on the buffet line at lunch.
- Keep your motivation going by making a list of why you are changing your habits. “I want to eat healthier so that my daughter won’t learn bad habits and have to struggle with her weight like I have.” “I want to save money so that I can travel in the future.” Keep this list handy to remind yourself often.
- Keep track of your small victories and reward yourself regularly. Small rewards can have great effects: a hot bath after going to the gym, a pedicure for 5 pounds lost, or a new video game for not smoking for two weeks. You’ll look forward to the prize when tempted to backslide. Just remember, you only get the reward for doing the action! If you don’t do it, you don’t get it!
"Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time." ~Mark Twain
We hope that these tips will take you a long way in your journey to become your own “after” picture and ditch the “before” picture for good.
Here’s to your success!
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.