Rebekah Dawson of FTGC Named CACFP Inspire Community Award Finalist
April 13, 2022
Rebekah Dawson is the director of the Child Nutrition Program at Feeding the Gulf Coast. FTGC has served as a CACFP sponsor in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi for over a decade. In Alabama and Mississippi, it is the largest CACFP sponsor. Feeding the Gulf Coast is also a current member of the Alabama Food Bank Association. Its mission is a hunger free Gulf Coast by 2024.
Feeding The Gulf Coast’s programming is extensive. It provides a variety of options to serve meals to the community, including hot meals that are prepared at its onsite kitchen. It also partners with its CACFP sites to provide additional non-reimbursable foods for the children to take home to their families. In 2021, with Dawson at the helm, FTGC served 84 afterschool meal sites with 276,614 snacks dispersed and 91,000 suppers dispersed across their 24-county service area.
In Dawson’s role, she adapted and overcame barriers on behalf of her organization during the pandemic. FTGC operated both SFSP and CACFP simultaneously throughout the crisis to provide broad access to nutritious meals. Dawson faced down challenges with food supply shortages, staffing shortages, and even headline-grabbing hurricanes. Despite these difficulties, the staff continued to adapt to the changing conditions of the pandemic. Dawson coordinated administrative employees to assist operational staff shortages by helping prepare and deliver meals.
When area children began attending school virtually, Feeding the Gulf Coast had to quickly change from serving snacks and suppers to serving hot meals for about 1,600 students per day within its Mobile and Baldwin County area. Dawson demonstrated flexibility and urgency in rapidly pivoting their services. Dawson also sought more grant funding for mobile pantries and their family-based meals.
On top of operating SFSP and CACFP, Feeding the Gulf Coast provided partner sites with access to mobile pantries, produce boxes and produce drops. In these situations, the food bank would provide up to 10,000 pounds of food to children and families at the sites. Dawson’s dedication and passion to the community has led to new partners and feeding thousands of children across their tri-state service area.
Dawson and her staff at Feeding the Gulf Coast worked tirelessly to continue to provide kids with the meals they need to be successful and to grow their partner sites with more funding and food access. Dawson is a finalist for the Inspire Community award for her efforts.
Award winners will be named during the 2022 National Child Nutrition Conference.