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Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) and Publix Super Markets have teamed to provide free school supplies to teachers and students in need across metro Atlanta.
The partnership was officially launched at a July 17 joint press conference. The new effort will support ACFB’s Kids In Need (KIN) program. KIN provides brand new, free school supplies to teachers at public schools in its 17 district service area where at least 80% of the students have access to the Federal free or reduced meal program.
The Publix “Tools for Back to School” Campaign, which kicks off July 24 in more than 1,000 stores across the Southeast, will raise funds in stores to donate school supplies as students and teachers prepare to return to school. There will be tear-off tickets valued at $5, $7 and $10 at the register. Customers may tear off a ticket and give it to the cashier when they check out. The amount on the ticket will be added to their grocery order. Customers who donate will receive a specially designed reusable bag.
The press conference opened with Lithonia High School’s drumline performing in the Kids In Need warehouse. Bill Bolling, Executive Director of ACFB, gave opening remarks, emphasizing the importance of community partnerships like the one with Publix. Brenda Reid, Media and Communications Manager for Publix also made remarks.
“We’re helping teachers, we’re helping kids,” said Reid. “We want the public to know that this program is designed to help those in need. We want customers to come in and donate five, seven, or ten dollars to help make a difference in the communities.”
Dr. John Barge, Georgia State Superintendent, was also in attendance. Barge spoke about the seriousness of the issue of childhood poverty in the state of Georgia.
“There are 1.7 million children attending Georgia schools,” said Barge. “60 percent of them are eligible to receive free or reduced meals.” He encouraged people to shop at Publix and make a donation during the campaign.
Michael Thurmond, DeKalb County School Superintendent, spoke about his personal connection to the challenges facing public education systems. He told an audience of teachers, Publix associates and officials that he, himself, had grown up accessing the Federal reduced meal program, but was able to eventually become a leader in the public schools system.
“Genius doesn’t just live on the north side, or the south side or the east side. Our teachers need this support,” said Thurmond. “I’m asking all Georgia residents, no matter where you might live, no matter what you might do, to support this effort to improve the quality of education in our state.”
Immediately after the press conference, teachers in attendance were able to shop for free school supplies. Volunteers from Publix sorted donated school supplies and helped teachers shop.