Startup wants to curb hunger with new community market

Jasmine Crowe-Houston, founder of Goodr, at her environmentally themed offices promoting Feed More Waste Less on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Atlanta. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Jasmine Crowe-Houston, founder of Goodr, at her environmentally themed offices promoting Feed More Waste Less on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Atlanta. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Mayor Andre Dickens cut the ribbon Friday on a new community market at the iVillage at MLK, the latest addition to the shipping container village at the Hamilton E. Holmes MARTA station.

The startup Goodr’s market was one of several new offerings unveiled at the retail and business space, which fuses multi-colored shipping containers and green space on MLK Jr. Drive. Several containers have been repurposed to provide healthcare screenings, financial literacy programs, community services and meal preparation.

Dickens said it was “impossible to overstate” the role of community markets like Goodr in promoting health and wellbeing.

“It is so much more than groceries,” Dickens said. “It could possibly be a lifeline for families who will be able to rely on services that can be provided here.”

According to a Goodr news release, 300 local families will get food on a recurring monthly basis from the market. The startup received a $1 million grant from the city of Atlanta for the community market.

Citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Goodr spokesperson Nancy Byron said people in the community’s zip code of 30311 have higher than average rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

The Atlanta Regional Commission found that 23% of residents in the area have limited access to healthy food, while 31% could not afford it, she wrote in an email.

Goodr partnered with Invest Atlanta for the launch. The wraparound services are offered through partnerships with Grady Memorial Hospital, the American Heart Association, Wells Fargo, and Eat Urban Fresh, according to the news release.

District 10 councilwoman Andrea L. Boone and Invest Atlanta’s senior vice president of economic development, Noah Downer, were among those who spoke before the ribbon cutting.

Goodr and their founder and CEO, Jasmine Crowe-Houston, said the store at iVillage was the company’s 25th offering. Before starting Goodr, the founder cooked and prepared food to help homeless people, then expanded the idea with food donations.

The startup typically provides services in schools and to seniors and offers free food at pop-up restaurants around the city. This was the first time it was branching out to serve a larger community, she said.

“Goodr’s mission has always been to ensure that fresh, nutritious and accessible food was available to all, regardless of financial circumstances or where you live. I believe that your zip code should not ever determine your life expectancy. But we know that is true if you do not have access to food,” she said.

In recent years, the city has taken action to reduce food insecurity and food deserts. In 2015, just over half of the city’s residents lived within one half-mile of grocery stores offering fresh food, but that rose to 75% of residents in 2020, according to the city’s Fresh Food Access Report.

By 2025, Dickens wants 85% of residents to have healthy and affordable food options nearby.

In an interview, Crowe-Houston said there is a link between affordable housing and food insecurity because people sometimes have to sacrifice food to pay for rent. She said a community market is something that could help close the gap.

“What we’re hoping is that this provides families with anywhere from seven to 10 days’ worth of food. They can now save that money that they would have spent at the grocery store and be able to put it towards something else,” she said.