"It's not something that you see every day in a school building," said school principal Anthony Love.
A high school in Texas has opened a student-run grocery store inside its premises with the aim of providing food and other necessities to students, staff, and their families struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic. The grocery store at Linda Tutt High School also helps give kids essential job skills at a time when job opportunities have dried up in the aftermath of the economic downfall caused by the virus outbreak. Moreover, the store doesn't accept money, just good deeds. "It's not something that you see every day in a school building," school principal Anthony Love told WAGA-TV.
Check out the awesome things happening at Linda Tutt! Great job Dr. Hughes, Mr. Love, and all the students! https://t.co/aX7gFgZPm5— Sanger ISD (@sanger_isd) November 19, 2020
"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," he added. The school was reportedly able to set up the store in an extra room with the help of local partners like the nonprofit First Refuge Ministries, Albertsons grocery store, and Texas Health Resources. Love revealed that he was approached by Paul Juarez, executive director of First Refuge Ministries, and Dr. Ann Hughes, the director of student intervention for Sanger Independent School District.
The grocery store at Linda Tutt High School doesn’t accept cash. It operates on a point system, where students can earn points for good deeds. https://t.co/do159Chict— FOX 10 Phoenix (@FOX10Phoenix) November 21, 2020
"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," he explained. Students can shop from the store using a point system. "A lot of our students, they come from low socioeconomic families." Love told CBS DFW. "It's a way for students to earn the ability to shop for their families. 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." The store aims to address food insecurities for students and others in the community during the ongoing pandemic and is open from Monday to Wednesday for students and staff within the school district.
Remarkable! Linda Tutt High School opened a grocery store to help address food insecurities. The student-managed store will provide food and goods but won't accept money; students participate where points can be spent in the store. #educationmatters https://t.co/1kfIALdQm3 pic.twitter.com/oRMAlN2hVU— Timothy Turner (@maestrotimothy) November 21, 2020
The public can utilize the grocery store via curbside pickup with the help of volunteers on Tuesday evenings. The number of family members in the household determines the points they receive to shop at the store which can then be used to get groceries or supplies for home. Paul Juarez, the Executive Director of First Refuge Ministries, said that he hopes the idea is implemented in other rural areas. "These points were actually given by the students, so we walked through here and decided that a can of green beans was one point," he said.
"It gives us a picture of what can be. So if we can do this inside other schools it will do a whole lot to help other small towns," Juarez added. On Fridays, the school partners with the BackPack Program—a program in cities across the country providing food for children on the weekends. "Partnering with them, we're able to provide additional food and supplies that the families may need," said Love. The store is run entirely by students, with them doing everything from stocking shelves to keeping tracking of inventory to managing the point system.
A nonprofit organization focused on military family needs and services found that one in six military and veteran respondents in Texas were experiencing low food security or hungry, even before the coronavirus pandemic hit. https://t.co/OtxxYhyGUH— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) November 23, 2020
"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," said Love. "Students are really the key piece to it." Sanger's City Mayor, Thomas Muir, said: "We all had our first jobs and it taught us how to work, and what you got for your work." While Linda Tutt High School gives students the option of either in-person or virtual instruction this year due to the pandemic, Love estimated that roughly 90% of students are currently attending in-person.