Atlanta School Opens Free Grocery Store to Help Families Facing Hunger and Food Insecurity

Goodr and hip hop artist Gunna team up to help out middle school students.

Gunna Grocery Store
Photo: Courtesy of Goodr

At the beginning of the school year, the nearly 900 students at Ronald E. McNair Middle School in College Park, Ga., just outside of Atlanta, found more than their teachers and classrooms when they returned to their school — they found the brand new Gunna's Drip Closet and Goodr Grocery Store, too.

The store is a collaboration between Grammy-nominated recording artist Gunna, who was a student at the school himself, and Goodr, an Atlanta-based organization with a mission to eliminate food waste and hunger through the power of technology. Inspiration for the store stemmed from the work that Goodr has been doing in the community for a handful of years.

"Goodr has been bringing in pop-up markets, bringing free healthy and free food to food deserts and to people where they are," Jasmine Crowe, founder and CEO of Goodr, tells Allrecipes. "We started in 2017, and did a lot during the pandemic."

When Gunna reached out to Crowe about developing a back-to-school initiative, she suggested something more than a giveaway.

"Instead of a back-to-school giveaway or something of that nature, why don't we do something that's lasting, that's going to stay around," Crowe pondered.

The opening of Gunna's Drip Closet and Goodr Grocery Store from when Gunna first approached Crowe was remarkably fast.

"From the concept to actual execution and seeing that vision come alive was about three weeks," says Crowe. "It was really quick."

From Dream to Reality

Goodr Grocery Store
Courtesy of Goodr

Crowe and her team at Goodr work with food manufacturers, distributors, and grocers to stock the grocery store; the shelves are lined with food, toiletry items, and household items. To ensure that the store is always stocked, Goodr hired a store manager to oversee that process.

"We've been working with farmers and farmers' markets since the beginning [of Goodr], so we bring fresh produce into the school every Monday," Crowe says.

Gunna's Drip Closet and Goodr Grocery Store is available to the middle school's students, their families, and the school's teachers and staff.

As far as the process for shopping, Crowe and her team have streamlined it to make it easy: Shoppers simply register on an app, a registration ticket goes to the front office, "…and front office then lets that family shop. They get a reusable grocery bag, and that's pretty much it," Crowe explains. "It is very easy for families to access the store.

"There isn't a limit on the food," she adds. "We want to really help people go with dignity, so for us it was really important not to shame anyone. We allow people to come in whenever they can and need to."

As far as the shoes that are donated by Foot Locker and Reebok to stock the closet, those are available exclusively to students, and there are guidelines around who can choose a new pair of kicks.

"The shoes, the students receive on a points basis," Crowe says. "So, they get points every day if they have perfect attendance, are not tardy for class, don't get into trouble at school. Those points add up, and they can exchange them for shoes. "Everything else essentially is open to families, students and staff, regardless of points."

"The store has been a huge success with our families," John T. Madden, Jr., principal of Ronald E. McNair Middle School, tells Allrecipes. "They have truly benefitted from the resources the stores provides for them. There has been nothing but positive feedback from our families who have actually had the opportunity to shop in the store.

"For Goodr and Gunna to team up and want to place this resource at McNair, is just simply unparalleled to anything we have ever done in this capacity," he adds.

When asked about the impact the store has on his students, Madden says, "With the resources provided, our students have been impacted in a positive way. For example, the popular brand shoes that are stocked in the store, have placed smiles of confidence on our students' faces who were in need of new shoes. They do not have to be ashamed of the shoes they are wearing anymore.

"Goodr fully restocks the store items at least twice a month to ensure resources are available," he adds. "We have no excuse to not assist our students in their time of need."

What Comes Next

Gunna and Jasmine Crowe
Gunna and Jasmine Crowe. Courtesy of Goodr

Now that Gunna's Drip Closet and Goodr Grocery Store is open and running, Crowe has her sights set on the next iteration: a free grocery store that's opening next month at a senior high-rise community in downtown Atlanta. And she's not resting there.

"We want to come to more cities and do this work across the country," she says. "If there's a school, senior home, or community center — reach out and we can work together. Goodr laid the ground work, let's get to more locations.

"It would be great if we could build 20 or 30 next year," she adds.

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