The church is in the process of executing a family food cooperative through local schools — Hapeville and Parklane elementary schools and Tri-Cities High — in the south Fulton area.
Jamie Vernon, one of the pastors at Tri-Cities, grew up in the community and has a passion for giving back in his community.
Establishing a food cooperative in the community, however, was in response to addressing a need that both Vernon and his brother saw prevalent among families on the Southside.
“Tri-Cities High School has some of the highest numbers of homeless students in Fulton County,” said Vernon. “There are many different levels, but one of the main reasons for the instability and transient nature for these families is food insecurity.”
Vernon said that often families face the tough decision on the last seven to 10 days of the pay period — whether or not to pay their rent.
“They have a choice, either pay their rent or buy food,” said Vernon. “Most with families elect to buy food and don’t pay their rent and end up having to be evicted or kicked out.”
The food cooperative program is intended to be one solution for families that face this dilemma.
In order to participate in the program, families apply to determine their eligibility and are pre-screened.
To provide the food, twice a month, a food order will be placed with the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Each order will contain about 40 pounds of food for each family, depending on family size.
Tri-Cities staff will pick up the food from the food bank, but once the food arrives at Parklane Elementary for distribution, members of the program will assist in unloading and separating food.
Each member family will pay a $3 membership fee per meeting.
Fees will not benefit the church, said Vernon, but instead will go towards the schools to fund miscellaneous fees for the social workers who work in conjunction with the program.
Vernon said the program seemed to be the best way to confront a growing issue.
“We saw [food insecurity] as a tragedy on so many different levels and we wanted to make a difference,” he said.
Vernon said he hopes the program will grow to assist 50 member families.