Middle School Opens Free General Store To Help Students With Struggling Families

School can be stressful enough for students who are just trying to finish their homework and do well in their classes. Things become significantly more difficult for children who don't have stable home lives, or who are experiencing poverty.

Now, one school is combating these issues by opening up a general store for their students to use, free of charge.

"It's like walking into a mini Walmart," said John Madden, principal of Ronald E. McNair Middle School in College Park, Georgia, while speaking with TODAY about the exciting new project.

"Even before the pandemic, we had high poverty, but the pandemic has really impacted a lot of our families," he explained to the news outlet.

"Our students have gone through a lot. Our kids will say, 'I didn't eat last night,' or, 'My lights are cut off,' or, 'I'm living with my cousin or my auntie because I don't have a place right now.' This store is going to provide them some relief."

The blessing in the shape of a store was organized by Jasmine Crowe, the founder of Goodr — an organization dedicated to stopping food waste and combating childhood hunger.

Jasmine teamed up with the rapper Gunna, a former student of the middle school, to help make this dream a reality.

She told the news outlet that she's been hosting pop-up grocery stores in food deserts for five years now, but this is the first permanent one, thanks to Gunnar's financial commitment.

"I learned a lot about the community and how great the need is there," Jasmine said. "It was something I just decided I wanted to do, and created it from scratch."

The store, called "Gunna's Drip Closet and Goodr Grocery Store" provided every single student with a reusable grocery bag to use while shopping at the store, and for their own personal use.

"Our hope was that now if you see a kid with that bag, you just don't know what's in it, because you got one as well," Jasmine explained.

The system works by allowing parents to place order requests through Goodr's website that their children will pick up the following day.

Jasmine told Today that the store had already received several requests in their first few days.

Those requests weren't for the shoes or fancy clothes, they were for food.

"To see those first requests, every single one of them asking for food, that was life-changing for me," she said. "Because that's when I knew what we were doing was necessary."

This is such a wonderful idea, and I hope it can be implemented in more schools soon!

h/t: Today