Linda Tutt High School in the town of Sanger has opened its own store inside the school. Operating on a points system, students can earn shopping currency by performing chores and good deeds at school, or for academic achievement. Points can be exchanged for a number of essential items such as fresh produce, meat, and toiletries.
Of the roughly 2,750 students enrolled throughout the school district, 43 percent are considered economically disadvantaged, according to school principal Anthony Love. “We thought it was important to support them and their families and make sure they had food on the table,” Love told CNN.
Besides helping address local food insecurity, the grocery store is also teaching students the value of giving back to the community.
“We all had our first jobs and it taught us how to work, and what you got for your work,” Sanger’s city mayor, Thomas Muir, told CBS DFW.
“I think the most exciting part of it is just teaching our kids job skills that they can carry with them as they graduate high school and move on into the world,” Love commented, speaking to Fox 10 Phoenix.
The grocery store, which is entirely student-run, was the brainchild of a collaboration between local nonprofit First Refuge Ministries, Albertsons grocery store, and Texas Health Resources. It operates Monday through Wednesday for students and faculty in an extra room provided by the school.
On Tuesdays, a curbside pickup for families in need—who are awarded shopping credits based on the size of their family—is also available. On Fridays, the store partners with the BackPack Program, a nationwide initiative providing food for kids in deprived neighborhoods on the weekends.
“It’s not something that you see every day in a school building,” Love reflected of the initiative.
Junior student Preston Westbrook, one of the grocery store’s managers, claimed that the store is helping leaven families’ spirits during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, especially the ones who lost their near and dear ones. “The students who come in are just so happy,” he told CNN, “they always have a smile on their face.”
On Dec. 15, the store will open its doors to the entire community of Sanger.
It is hoped that the store will act as a prototype for others across the district in the future.
“It gives us a picture of what can be,” said Paul Juarez, executive director of First Refuge Ministries. “So if we can do this inside other schools, it will do a whole lot to help other small towns.”
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