OKALOOSA ISLAND, Fla. (WKRG) — The Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center housed one of the largest charity food packing events in the nation Saturday. More than 900 volunteers packed 320,000 meals to help children in Haiti suffering from food insecurity.

Military son Bryson Turner began his Hope for the Hungry Emerald Coast event in 2015 after missing out on a church mission trip. In order to still help, Turner raised $6,000 to help create 20,000 meals for kids in Haiti.

From 9 years old to standing tall at 15, Turner said his purpose has not changed.

“The kids are encouraged to stay in school because, unlike in America, school is not mandatory,” said Turner. “It’s not legally mandatory, and so if they stay in school, they get fed and so they want to do well in school to also not get kicked out.”

Volunteers worked in shifts Saturday, Aug. 6 to sort and pack meals for shipment. Turner said he has seen the entire process ending with these meals in the hands of kids that need them.

“We have rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and like some vitamin powder,” said Turner. “That’s the main makeup of it and then the Haitians and locals will add whatever they’ve got into it.”

Mission for Hope began in 1998 to help children in Haiti battling food insecurity. Turner’s Hope for the hungry Emerald Coast is the organization’s largest fundraiser every year.

Non-profit president Brad Johnson said in 2023, Turner will have boxed more than 1 million meals. Mission of Hope then stores the meals in a warehouse and gives them to churches and schools in Haiti.

Bryson Turner, Hope for the Hungry Emerald Coast founder

“I mean, I’ve been going at this thing over half my life now, so it’s been fantastic,” said Turner. It’s been great to see the community all come together ’cause it’s a local event that has just such a global effect. Like we’re helping people.”

Turner’s event raised more than the $100,000 goal starting his funding for next year. Anyone wanting to help Hope for the Hungry Emerald Coast can contact them online.

To start a project of your own, learn more from the Mission of Hope directly.

Stay ahead of the biggest stories, breaking news and weather in Mobile, Pensacola and across the Gulf Coast and Alabama. Download the WKRG News 5 news app and be sure to turn on push alerts.