Food Assistance Program (2018 Update)

2018 marks quite the year for BEAM’s food assistance programs. Last year, we celebrated the 5th “birthday” of Grace Garden, our 7,200 square foot urban garden, which provides supplemental produce for our two client-choice food pantries. We harvested more than 6,500 pounds of produce from sixty-one 4’ x 12’ garden boxes and seven aeroponic towers.

In addition, the Beaches Community Food Bank, housed behind the 7north marquee thrift store in North Jax Beach continues to distribute a record number of rescued food from grocery retailers and donations from community food drives. This steady increase year over year has allowed BEAM to increase the number of Feeding Northeast Florida agency partners that receive food on a regular basis. Last year alone, the BEAM Food Bank distributed more than 789,000 pounds of food, equaling 657,590 meals to our hungry beaches neighbors (5% increase over last year). Of those, 369,4515 meals were distributed through our mobile food pantry partners including Pablo Hamlet, Pablo Towers and Mayport Elementary School and the other 288,174 meals were taken home by the clients of our two brick and mortar food pantries last year.

As you may know, the Mayport area is a USDA designated food desert, meaning that it has significant number of residents that are more than one mile (urban) or 10 miles (rural) from the nearest supermarket. It is also an area designated as “low vehicle access”, meaning that more than 100 households have no access to a vehicle and are more than 0.5 miles from the nearest supermarket. This is why we are relentless in our expansion efforts in this area of the community.

Last year we were proud to add the Jacksonville USO off Mayport Rd as a partner, which has allowed us to regularly provide food for the active and retired military families they serve. In recent times, this partnership has become even more critical as we work to provide meals to families on furlough impacted by the government shutdown.

New Year’s Resolutions



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:

  1. 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”.
  2. 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.
  3. 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”.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

Quotable Quotes

"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!

Introducing Mayport Market

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.