Last Updated Mar 1, 2021 7:09 PM EST
Sanger, Texas — It was an innovation born out of desperation during the: A food bank run like a grocery store inside of a school. The organizers said it's a way to give students life lessons in retail and respect.
"This is a way to feed people with dignity. So if you think about it, if a mom, single mom, is leaving the house and tells the kids, 'I'm gonna go to the food pantry,' or, 'I'm gonna go to the grocery store.' Which one has more dignity? Going to the grocery store. That's what we have right here. A grocery store," said Paul Juarez, the executive director of First Refuge Ministries in Texas.
Juarez teamed up with Anthony Love, the principal of Linda Tutt High School, to transform an art room into a store that also offers job skills to the students.
More than 40% of the families at the school are at or below the poverty level. Teens stock shelves, order supplies and can shop for food using a point system based on need.
"We give our students opportunities to earn bonus points — that they can use to shop in the grocery store for food and supplies for their family," Love said. "It's about building pride and dignity in our students. It teaches our kids life skills, job skills, that they can carry on with 'em beyond high school."
Every Tuesday, the store opens up to the entire community.
Hunter Weeterman, a student who works in the store, said he likes "seeing people smile and how their day is changed. And them being happy that they know they have food and not — they're not gonna wake up in the morning hungry."