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No Teacher Can Teach Through Hunger

Goodr and the City of Powder Springs opened a Goodr Grocery Store at Tapp Middle School.
Goodr and the City of Powder Springs opened a Goodr Grocery Store at Tapp Middle School.

The City of Powder Springs opens a Goodr Grocery Store at Tapp Middle School.

By Cory Sekine-Pettite

You may be surprised to learn that in a nation as wealthy and modern as ours, there still are nearly 14 million households (by U.S. government estimates) that suffer from food insecurity. This term is defined as a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. And whether the condition is temporary or long-term in a particular household, the greatest harm typically falls upon children — many of whom may only be fed through their school lunch program. As one would expect, a hungry child is not adequately equipped to learn, to enjoy school, or even to want to stay in school.

This is where organizations, such as Atlanta-based Goodr, are stepping in to relieve hunger, particularly in minority communities, which are more likely to be impacted by food insecurity. According to the USDA, in 2020, Black non-Hispanic households were over two times more likely to be food insecure than the national average (21.7 percent versus 10.5 percent, respectively). Among Hispanic households, the prevalence of food insecurity was 17.2 percent compared to the national average of 10.5 percent. Potential factors influencing these disparities may include neighborhood conditions, physical access to food, and lack of transportation.

“Food insecurity is a huge issue facing many parts of our country, and even within our own community, and when it affects children, it can have even more negative effects,” said Powder Springs Mayor Al Thurman. “The city’s partnership with Goodr aims to reduce food insecurity and is part of its greater effort to create an economically secure city for its residents.”

Founded in 2017, Goodr is a sustainable waste management and hunger relief company that leverages technology and logistics to reduce food waste and fight hunger. Goodr, a certified B-Corp, is built on the principle that food insecurity is not an issue of scarcity; it’s a matter of logistics. Goodr offers a variety of Hunger Relief and Food Waste Solutions, which include Surplus Food Recovery, Pop-Up Grocery Markets, and more. Headquartered in Atlanta, Goodr operates nationwide with clients in industries ranging from food service and hospitality to arenas, universities, celebrities and more. As of 2022, Goodr has served nearly 30 million meals to those in need and redirected 12 million pounds of food and organic material away from landfills.

The company recently worked with the City of Powder Springs to open a Goodr Grocery Store at Tapp Middle School. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Dec. 7, 2022. This store represents the company’s second Goodr Grocery Store in a Georgia Title I School and the company’s fifth store overall. The store will provide access to groceries for Tapp’s students (grades 6-8), and their families — free of charge during the school year. Eligible families are those at 120 percent of the federal poverty line, typically any family eligible for free or reduced lunch, TANF, or other need-based federal aid.

“Adding a Goodr store at Tapp means a lot to our school and local community,” said Tapp Middle School Principal, Dr. Alvin Thomas. “It gives us the opportunity to provide our families easy access to free, fresh food. This takes the burden off families that may be struggling financially and having a hard time affording groceries in today’s market. I am hopeful the store will be a light in the community and be a model for other schools and communities.”

Pictured L-R: Goodr Founder Jasmine Crowe-Houston, Powder Springs Mayor Al Thurman, and Tapp Middle School Principal Dr. Alvin Thomas.
Pictured L-R: Goodr Founder Jasmine Crowe-Houston, Powder Springs Mayor Al Thurman, and Tapp Middle School Principal Dr. Alvin Thomas.

The planning, building and restocking of the grocery stores is all handled by Goodr and they can be placed within a school, healthcare facility or location of the sponsor’s choice. The mission is to provide families a place where they can conveniently receive groceries, beverages and more at no cost, in a dignified setting; something that would bring immeasurable relief to struggling families everywhere.

Goodr opened their first Goodr Grocery Store in partnership with GRAMMY-nominated, platinum rap artist, Gunna, at his former middle school, Ronald E. McNair Middle School, in September 2021. In January 2022, Goodr followed up with an on-site store for residents at the Lutheran Towers senior living community in Midtown Atlanta. This past November, the company opened two of six planned stores in Denver Public Schools, in partnership with Amazon and Aetna. Goodr Founder and CEO, Jasmine Crowe-Houston, says that there will be 13 Goodr Grocery Stores open or set to open by Q1 2023, with a goal to open 50 by the end of 2023.

“Having access to stores like this has changed the lives of so many and we are grateful to the City of Powder Springs for giving us the opportunity to serve this community in such an impactful and continuous way,” Crowe-Houston said. “Students across America deserve to equitably engage in their learning opportunities instead of wondering where their next meal is coming from. No teacher can teach through hunger! Goodr’s plan is to continue to bring solutions to cities and school districts across this country with the help of amazing partners like this great city.”

The funding for the store at Tapp came through the city’s funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA (the COVID-related federal stimulus plan). According to the city’s ARPA Program Manager, Wayne P. Wright, the Mayor and Council chose to spend some of those funds to address food insecurity. “Tapp was chosen because it is a community hub in Powder Springs and serves all middle school students in the city limits who attend public school,” he said. Wright added that in addition to the Goodr Grocery Store at Tapp Middle School, the City of Powder Springs funded a contract with Reflections of Trinity, a non-profit that operates a food pantry and thrift store in the city. Under the city’s contract with Reflections of Trinity, they provide weekend food bags for local elementary school students who are on the free or reduced lunch program. Reflections also have expanded their weekly distribution of food boxes to families in need.

“Reflections of Trinity has been serving the Powder Springs community — and beyond — for the past 20 years and our food pantry currently distributes groceries to approximately 1,200 families each week,” says Founder Laurie Wong. “I have seen food insecurity increase over the years with a huge surge during COVID and again in 2022 with rising inflation, limited affordable rent options, and the significant rise in the price of food at the grocery store. We have a long-standing relationship with Tapp since we opened our doors in 2003 and we wish them all the best in this new endeavor.”

Programs such as Goodr and Reflections of Trinity are made possible through volunteers. If you would like to learn more about these organizations and how to get involved or to make donations, visit their websites at goodr.co and reflectionsoftrinity.org.

“Contributions to food pantries and organizations that support the hungry are important, Wright said. “People also can volunteer their time; volunteers are supporting the grocery store at Tapp, and Reflections of Trinity also needs a large number of volunteers for its weekly food distribution on Saturdays.”

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