Ten years ago, when the Flagler County government launched Feed Flagler, Dottie Colletta felt a calling from God to be involved.
“Everything I do for the Lord, he has spoken to me about,” she said. “It’s being a servant for everything that we do.”
Through her connection at Grace Community Food Pantry, which is a nonprofit operated by Grace Tabernacle Ministries, Colletta remembers the first feeding that Feed Flagler held at a number of schools in 2008, the day before Thanksgiving. She said that despite a beautiful spread of Thanksgiving food and free transpiration provided by the county, a lot of people in need didn’t come out to the event, which she suspects is due to pride.
That’s when Feed Flagler thought of bringing the meals to the people.
“They decided to make a meal box with a turkey so people could eat in the comfort and privacy of their homes,” Colletta said.
She added that about 1,100 meal boxes were packaged for families in need to pick up at several churches and organizations around Flagler County. The county also held a one-day feeding that year.
In 2015, the Feed Flagler efforts became too much for the county, Colletta said. That’s when Pastor Charles Silano and the Grace Community Food Pantry truly took over the Feed Flagler operations.
Diane Dieter, who attends Palm Coast Community Church, hopped on the Feed Flagler management team about five years ago. She and Colletta now work side by side for all the planning and execution.
“We want people to have a really nice Thanksgiving and feel the love that’s gone into this,” Dieter said. “Because it’s a community doing this. Eleven churches and organization in Flagler County are involved in this.”
This year, Feed Flagler will be feeding over 800 families. Since 2015, Feed Flagler has given out 2,324 meal boxes with turkeys and have served 1,150 hot meals at feeding sites on either the day before Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day.
Dieter said the collection and packaging process is a “well-oiled machine.”
The week of Nov. 12-16, shifts of volunteers will pack the Cattleman’s Hall at the Flagler County Fairgrounds as the churches and organizations drop off the canned donations that Monday. Dieter said that Chicks with Cans, which collects the largest number of cans every year for Feed Flagler, will drop their goods off at the hall on Tuesday. About 30 people per day will sort and package a balanced variety of 12-15 canned goods into meal boxes. The turkeys will be delivered that Friday in an ice box for the organizations involved to then pick up with their designated number of meal boxes.
“We know we’re blessing people doing this, but we’re being blessed 10 times over. It’s special; it really is.”
- DIANE DIETER, Feed Flagler
“If you can see a child get food to eat, who is hungry for a weekend, you would do it too,” Colletta said. “Or, if you could say a family saying, ‘I’m going to have a turkey for Thanksgiving,’ instead of a can of soup. … I’m really passionate about everything that God would have me do.”
Feed Flagler is looking for more monetary donations so they can purchase all the turkeys needed. Those interested can donate by sending a check to Grace Community Food Pantry, addressed to 5400 E. Highway 100, Palm Coast, with a memo of “Feed Flagler.” You can also donate online at http://www.gracecommunityfoodpantry.com.
“We know we’re blessing people doing this, but we’re being blessed 10 times over,” Dieter said. “It’s special; it really is.”