Saturday (6/17) was the annual Family Fun Day at Walker Ford Community Center, in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Tallahassee. Not only were there the obligatory bounce house and face-painting, but a mobile food pantry was there as well.
It was the 5th year for the event, hosted by Living Stones International, which describes itself as a faith-based family outreach and social service organization. Agencies on hand ran from the police, sheriff and fire departments to the Literacy Volunteers, Legal Aid Foundation and Family Network on Disabilities. The Bond Community Health Center had a mobile unit there. Dave Reynolds of Farm Share said his non-profit has been participating for years.
“It’s a wonderful event," he exclaimed. "We helped a lot of folk, gave out a lot of produce and some fresh juices – it was a good morning.”
Reynolds said Farm Share, a statewide non-profit, distributed 100-thousand pounds of food in two-and-a-half hours, before the event was well under way. Farmers and stores provide much of the food. Reynolds said now, with school out and students on the free and reduced lunch plan missing more meals, it’s been a scramble.
“The farms are doing really well up here at this time, it’s starting to slow down in South Florida a little bit because it gets too hot. But we work a lot with the backpack program, and those folks know they can come to me all summer long and get food,” he said.
Fred Rouse, a case manager with Living Stones International, added the social-service agencies have to get the word out with “boots on the ground.”
“For the kids, for the families that are suffering, that don’t know how to address their issues, who haven’t talked to anyone about it, don’t know how to fix it, still in the same old lifestyle, belief system, ideologies…You know, they don’t know that there’s agencies out here that could help,” Rouse said.
Hence the presence of the Gulf Specimen Aquarium, with older kids lifting toddlers to see the conchs and crabs. And the basket toss, water slide and boiled peanuts. In order to work, Family Fun Day has something for everyone in the family.