There have always been people in need, but during the coronavirus pandemic, more people are struggling than ever. Fortunately, hard times are often met with good people helping others in often creative ways. Such as a high school grocery store.
Linda Tutt High School in Sanger Texas opened a grocery shop to help provide for students, staff member, and their families.
The store is run by students, and they don’t accept cash. Customers purchase their food with points, which are earned by good deeds such as keeping the school tidy and doing well in class.
High School Grocery Store Provides Food and Life Skills
It’s open from Monday to Wednesday for students and staff to shop. On Tuesday nights, their families could get groceries via curbside pickup with the help of volunteers. The points system takes in the number of members in the students’ families.
“It’s not something that you see every day in a school building,” said the principal of Linda Tutt, Anthony Love. “I think a big part of it is about empowering our students, because many of them come from low socioeconomic families that need just a little extra support with food.” 
The high school grocery store aids students with food insecurities, especially those affected by the pandemic.
“It’s a way for students to earn the ability to shop for their families,” said Love. “Through hard work you can earn points for positive office referrals. You can earn points for doing chores around the building or helping to clean.”
Aside from supporting people in need, the store teaches life lessons to the students who participate in running it. This includes tracking inventory, keeping the shelves filled and orderly, and calculating the points. Love appreciates the added benefit of providing precious work skills to the children.
“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 added. “Students are really the key piece to it.”
Opening the High School Grocery Store
The principal of Linda Tutt, Anthony Love, received the offer through Dr. Ann Hughes, the director of student intervention for the school district, and Paul Juarez, the executive director of First Refuge Ministries.
“They approached me about a grant that they wanted to apply for through Texas Health Resources, about possibly putting a grocery store inside a school,” said Love.
Now, local nonprofit First Refuge Ministries, Texas Health Resources, and Albertson’s grocery store fund the high school grocery store. Linda Tutt also participates in the BackPack Program that helps provide food and supplies to kids over the weekends.
“Partnering with them, we’re able to provide additional food and supplies that the families may need,” said Love. 
The school is located about 60 miles northwest of Dallas. Because of the pandemic, students can opt for in-person or virtual classes, although about 90% chose in-person. This is Love’s second year as principal.
Paul Juarez, the Executive Director of First Refuge Ministries, is in favor of this project. He hopes the idea of a high school grocery store would spread to other rural areas.
“It gives us a picture of what can be,” he said. “So, if we can do this inside other schools it will do a whole lot to help other small towns.” 
How to Help the COVID-19 Hunger Crisis
It’s too early to know the full impact of COVID-19 on world hunger. However, it is clear that the pandemic and measures to contain it have affected the production and distribution of food. As a result, more people are going hungry. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World’s publication in June estimated that the pandemic could add over 130 million people into the state of chronic hunger by the end of the year. 
There might not be a high school grocery store in your area, but you could start your own! Here are three other ways to help those suffering from hunger:
- Volunteer at your local community kitchen or food bank. This will help families in your community be able to put their money toward other expenses while still being able to consume healthy foods.
- Buy locally grown food. This directly supports the famers in your community, who often donate their unsold food to those in need.
- Donate to an anti-hunger organization. There many nonprofits helping people all over the world. Donations support their good work. Impact Your World is an organization that compiled nonprofits aiding COVID-19-related hunger. You could donate here. 
 Mark Pygas. “High school opens grocery store for students and their families, accepting good deeds as payment.” Upworthy. November 25, 2020
 Kelly Taylor Hayes. “Texas high school opens grocery store for students, families — and it accepts good deeds as payment.” Fox 5. November 20, 2020
 Meghan Overdeep. “Texas High School Opens Grocery Store That Accepts Good Deeds as Payment.” Southern Living. November 25, 2020
 “As more go hungry and malnutrition persists, achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 in doubt, UN report warns.” World Health Organization.
 Lauren Lee. “How you can help fight the hunger crisis resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.” CNN. October 16, 2020