Native Sun partners with Montessori Tides School to bring food to local USO families


Native Sun Natural Foods Market recently hosted students from Montessori Tides School for its 15th annual shopping event to benefit families at the United Service Organizations (USO) Mayport Center in Jacksonville.

As the students arrived Dec. 13 at the Native Sun store on Baymeadows Road, they had shopping lists in hand. With nearly $1,300 in donations from Montessori Tides families and Native Sun, the students and their teacher, Jess Spurlock, planned and purchased balanced meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner while keeping a close eye on each dollar spent.

“The children enjoyed using our gifts of time and love, in conjunction with Native Sun Natural Foods Market, to help the USO provide for our service members and their families,” said Spurlock, whose school has been in Jacksonville Beach for 30 years. “Community service is one of our most enjoyable activities, and we were able to give back to our community because of support from our Montessori Tides School families and Native Sun.”

As the final items went through the register, student Riyln Taylor pulled a $5 bill out of her own pocket to purchase a box of soup and complete the last meal of the food drive, which benefited 140 families this year.

The annual event began in 2001 when 8-year-old Dawson Pickett, a Montessori Tides School student, saw a sign for a food drive at the USO Mayport Center. Now 15 years later, the event has evolved into a partnership with Native Sun that the natural and organic grocer embraces.

“With one in six people in Northeast Florida struggling with hunger, 65 percent of food bank recipients suffering from high blood pressure and 35 percent of food bank recipients suffering from diabetes, we are pleased to help provide healthy food options to the USO families in our community,” said Meghan Fiveash, Native Sun community relations manager.