Moms tackle student hunger

Posted on September 23, 2016 by Romi White

Michelle Abrams was a volunteer for the Rotary Club of Gulf Breeze’s Weekend Food Program helping bag up food for needy Navarre area students. Last year she felt Navarre needed its own similar program.
“At that time, I started discussing it and praying for the right opportunity to open,” Abrams said.
One day she was approached by fellow Navarre resident Tonia Smith, who had overheard Abrams and said she wanted to help.
“A month later we approached Gulf Breeze to ask to take over the Navarre schools, and about another month later we started in Navarre,” Abrams said.
“We are just really two moms who saw a need and wanted to step out in faith to let the community assist us in solving an issue for our local students,” Abrams said.
But their humble effort is paying off. Now the ladies are joined by a growing group of volunteers, including members of Rotary Club of Navarre, who meet up at Navarre Youth Sports Association’s gym each Thursday night and bag food Smith purchases — often using coupons she and Abrams collect.
“We exist solely on donations and every dollar is spent on procuring the food. We don’t get paid and any program expenses such as business cards, and other business expenses are absorbed by us personally or through generous people who step up to help us cover those,” Abrams said.
Around 40 volunteers showed up Sept. 15 to help, so hundreds of bags were stuffed in roughly 30 minutes. The next morning volunteers dropped off bags at the schools, where they are distributed to schools in Navarre.
According to Abrams, school counselors contact those who qualify for free or reduced lunch and offer the program information. “At that point they sign up with the counselor. We are never given the names of any of the families,” she said.
Last year their effort fed around 315 students at most of the Navarre schools. This year that number is climbing and is close to 400 since all six of the Navarre schools are participating.
“We have more than 100 Holley-Navarre Primary students benefiting from this program,” said Principal Barbara Scott, who said the students are “discreetly” given a bag of food each weekend and long holiday weekend.
“The HNP school community is most grateful for those that donate towards the food drive donations. This labor of love reflects the compassion and love from our community for our children,” Scott said.
“It’s been truly humbling to watch the program grow and to see the community step up and join us as we meet this need,” Abrams said.
For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation to the program visit