Linda Tutt High School in Sanger, Texas, recently built a grocery store inside its campus. Making it even more remarkable is the store’s unique payment method of accepting only good deeds instead of cash.
The high school opened the shop in November to help low-income students and their families put food on their tables and purchase other necessities.
Since the store doesn’t take monetary payments, students in the entire school district purchase necessary goods through a points system.
The points are initially set based on the size of their family. After that, students can earn more for outstanding performance at school, doing good deeds which teachers and school staff can award points for, or completing various jobs around the campus such as mentoring elementary school students and helping out in the library.
“A lot of our students, they come from low socioeconomic families,” school principal Anthony Love said. “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 grocery store was built through the cooperation of local partners like First Refuge Ministries, Albertsons, and Texas Health Resources.
Paul Juarez, the executive director of First Refuge Ministers, and Dr. Ann Hughes, the director of student intervention for Sanger Independent School District, approached Love and pitched him the idea.
Love told CNN that there are roughly 2,750 students enrolled in their school district. 43% of them are considered economically disadvantaged. Also, about 3.6% of Linda Tutt’s students are homeless.
The brains behind this initiative thought it was important to support these students and their families to make sure they don’t go hungry.
Besides helping families fight food insecurity, the project also teaches students life skills that they can bring with them after high school and when they enter the real world. They will learn about having sales when they have too much product and what to expect in their first jobs.
The shop—which was built in an extra room on campus—is run by the students. They’re responsible for managing the inventory, stocking the shelves, and helping other students find and bag the products they need.
This program has truly been an enriching experience for Linda Tutt’s pupils.
“I love this school, I help out in everything we do. And I’m a helper, it’s just what I do. I’m here to make sure students get what they need,” Preston Westbrook, a junior at the high school, told CNN.
“The store helped bring families’ spirits up during the pandemic, especially for people who lost family members. The students who come in are just so happy, they always have a smile on their face.”
The grocery store is available to serve staff and students within the school district from Monday to Wednesday and for one hour on Tuesday for the public.
The shop will also hold food drives weekly for the community and aid other food insecurity projects in the area. On December 15, it will be open to the entire Sanger district.
Principal Love is glad that other school districts are planning to launch a similar project to help more families in need.
“We are a small school district but we always try to teach our kids the importance of giving back to the community,” Love said. “Now school districts all around Texas and the rest of the country are asking how they can start a program like ours, and it’s really exciting for us to know our little town is spreading good.”
This program isn’t something we see every day, but maybe it’s about time we do. You may watch the video below to learn more about this unique in-school grocery store.