By Jasmine Crowe’s estimate, 350 families who came by Lucky Shoals Park in unincorporated Norcross on Friday should have enough food to get by for at least another week during the economic downturn created by the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.
Crowe is the founder and CEO of Goodr, which teamed up with the Atlanta Hawks, State Farm and Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation to stage a pop-up grocery store at the park for three hours Friday afternoon to help families in need. Families had to sign up in advance, with Crowe saying all of the slots were quickly filled after registration began at Monday afternoon.
“The need is probably much greater,” Crowe said. “The registration for this on on the (Goodr) website usually fills up within an hour. Sometimes we’ll add additional slots. I would say by 2 p.m., it was full (on Monday).”
This was the eighth pop-up grocery that Goodr, the Hawks and State Farm have staged around metro Atlanta during the COVID-19 economic downturn. The weekly groceries have been staged in different communities around the area, with one more scheduled to take place in DeKalb County this coming week.
Each family got three beverages; their choice of regular or almond milk; eggs; cheese; bacon or turkey sausage; lunch meat; turkey or pork hot dogs; their choice of two meats (options included shrimp, salmon, ground beef, ground turkey, ribs and chicken); hot dog buns; wheat bread; non-perishable items; and produce.
“This is like a slight relief,” Crowe said. “They have groceries for the week and it didn’t cost them anything so my hope is that it’s like a slight relief. There’s so many things going on that causes a lot of stress, so I hope this gives people a little bit of joy.”
Goodr has been around since 2017 but it began partnering with the Hawks in 2019 on events to provide food to struggling families. When the pandemic starting to take a toll on businesses who had to furlough employees earlier this year, Crowe said she reached out to the Hawks about doing the drive thru pop-up grocery events.
Hawks Vice-President of Corporate Social Responsibility Andrea Carter said the basketball team wanted to help out because of needs it was hearing existed in the community.
“Once everything broke with COVID, we started from our community partners about a real need around food insecurity and so we thought what can we do to make a difference so we connected with Goodr to say we want to host pop-up grocery stores in communities where we’ve built (basketball) courts and Good Neighbor Clubs, and then other communities in need,” Carter said.
State Farm then joined in to help with the effort.
“The past few weeks of working with the Atlanta Hawks and Goodr to help our neighbors across metro Atlanta during these unprecedented times has been inspiring,” State Farm Public Affairs Specialist Myles C. Mitchom said. “These weekly efforts have been a manifestation of our mission of helping people recover from the unexpected and we are both thankful and proud to do part.”
But Friday’s grocery event, while not the first one done during the downturn, was the first in a different way. It marked the first time that Goodr, which Crowe established in 2017 to stage pop-up groceries in struggling communities, has done an event in Gwinnett County.
Crowe said people should not assume that food insecurity issues are limited to large cities, such as Atlanta, or that suburbs don’t have those issues.
“I think that’s crazy,” Crowe said. “You have 20% of America that’s unemployed right now, so the need is everywhere and the face of hunger has drastically changed. People who have never been hungry in their lives are experiencing hunger now so I think it matters if it’s the suburbs. None of that matters now.”
Gwinnett County Department of Community Services Deputy Director Lindsey Jorstad said Lucky Shoals Park was chosen for the event partially because there was an existing partnership with the Hawks, which renovated the park’s outdoor basketball court and established a Good Neighbor club at the park last year. And also because it had enough space to accommodate the pop-up set up and the volume of cars that came through to pick up groceries.
“And the area that we’re in has such great need, especially during the COVID-19 (pandemic),” Jorstad said.