Jeanne Croteau

Have you seen the story about a rapper and an entrepreneur teaming up to open a free grocery store inside a middle school in Georgia? This in-school grocery store provides a wide variety of foods, toiletries, household items, and even clothes and shoes for students and their families. With food insecurity becoming a growing issue in our country, more schools might be following suit. Here’s why. 

Child Hunger in America

Since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, food insecurity rates have risen by nearly two-third for families with children. School closures, along with food supply chain and staffing problems, have left millions of kids in the United States struggling with hunger. Our country lags “behind most peer countries in meeting the needs of children and families during the pandemic.” 

Here are some quick facts about child hunger in America:

  • An estimated 17 million kids are struggling with hunger, six million more than before the pandemic. 
  • Nearly one in five U.S. families reportedly did not have enough food last December.
  • Food scarcity is highest in Louisiana—25 percent of families with children face hunger
  • Black and Hispanic children are twice as likely as white children to face hunger in America.

When you’re hungry, how well are you able to concentrate on your work? Children are no different. We can’t expect them to be hungry for knowledge with empty stomachs. In fact, hungry students are more likely to be distracted, come to school late/miss school, repeat a grade, have lower math scores, and have less energy. What can be done to help?

Free In-School Grocery Store

After years of working together on charitable efforts, Jasmine Crowe, the CEO of Goodr, a startup with the goal of eliminating food waste, was eager to partner with rap star, Gunna, to open a free grocery store inside his old middle school in Georgia. 

Gunna’s Drip Closet And Goodr Grocery Store is like a “mini Walmart” for the students and families at Ronald McNair Middle School in Atlanta. The difference, of course, is that everything is absolutely free. Every week the stock is replenished, including fresh produce, vegan foods, and easy meal options that kids can make themselves. Parents can come shop after dropping their kids off at school. They even have access to an app that allows them to reserve a time slot or request specific items. 

This has all been a dream come true for Crowe, who says, “I know we’ve received tons of messages from parents that are just saying, ‘You know what? You don’t know how much you just saved my life,’ because now these kids can literally say, ‘Mom, I’ll bring dinner home.’ … [With so many parents earning minimum wage] sometimes they’re working two and three jobs and there are little kids at the house. So it is really good to be able to have that there.”

How Can We Help Solve The Food Crisis?

We already know that school lunches are a major issue right now, in addition to the hunger kids may be facing at home. What can be done? We can’t all open a free in-school grocery store tomorrow, but we can find ways to help. One woman in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, started bagging weekend food for hungry kids and now the program now feeds hundreds.

We want to hear from you. Could a free in-school grocery store help your students? How is your school making a difference? Share your thoughts with our community.

Image Source: NPR/Jasmine Crowe





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