Destin Harvest, a food rescue that distributes groceries to feeding organization in Walton and Okaloosa counties, recently received a roughly $101,000 grant from IMPACT 100. The group plans to use the money to purchase two new refrigerated box trucks.
DESTIN — A local nonprofit organization plans to use a roughly $100,000 grant to feed more people across two counties.
After being selected by IMPACT 100 as one of five local groups to receive a $101,600 grant, Destin Harvest is gearing up to purchase two new vehicles to replace an aging fleet of refrigerated box trucks.
"I couldn’t believe it," said Chris Leavenworth, executive director of the group. "All the organizations there were worthy. ... I was on Cloud 9."
Destin Harvest is a food rescue that distributes groceries to feeding organizations in Walton and Okaloosa counties. The group was previously selected for the same grant in 2013.
"The whole point of IMPACT 100 is to expand and take your program to the next level, and we were waiting for a good opportunity to basically go back to them for that kind of support," he said. "We’re trying to take on more stores and bring on more agencies, but a big wall in the way of that has been our trucks."
The new, state-of-the-art trucks will replace the current vehicles that have cost the group about $25,000 in repairs this year.
"In order for us to get to the next level of food rescue and to really break new ground, we have to have trucks that we can just ultimately rely on," Leavenworth said.
Destin Harvest began in 2007 after its anonymous founder noticed how many people visited Harbor Docks for its annual Thanksgiving dinner. Leavenworth joined the group that year as a part-time driver.
"People in our community show up for a free Thanksgiving not just because it’s a good event, but because they genuinely needed a hot meal," he said.
Some of the nearly 40 programs that benefit from Destin Harvest include Children in Crisis, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Blue Door Ministries, One Hopeful Place and Sharing and Caring.
Delivery sites are located in Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, DeFuniak Springs and Freeport.
"It’s a dream job to be able to do something to help other people," he said. "You’re actively doing something that touches people’s lives, and you’re part of the community. ... It’s just awesome and very rewarding."