Georgia Alford and Winnie Alford, who are eighth and seventh graders at Sandy Springs Charter Middle School, respectively, place donated items for the community at Samad Mediterranean Grill and Market.  Photo courtesy Jennifer Lott 

Sandy Springs parents, restaurant help to feed food insecure families 

At 2 a.m. Friday morning, Jennifer Lott was awake with worries that low income families will suffer as businesses and services shutdown because of the coronavirus. The co-president of Sandy Springs Charter Middle School Parent Teacher Organization (SSCMS PTO) got out of bed and emailed the owners of Samad Mediterranean Grill and Market asking if the restaurant could be the site of community food donations. 

“I knew there were food insecure families,” said Lott. “In our middle school, at least 50 percent of students are in the free and reduced lunch program. I knew this would be something our families would need.”

In the overnight hours, word spread on Lott’s idea as she emailed teachers encouraging them to contact parents. By 10:15 a.m., Lott had brought boxes of goods to Samad Grill, and a woman was at the restaurant door hoping to receive a donation. 

“The woman had elementary and middle school children and she didn’t know what she was going to do,” said Lott. “I [had gone] to Dollar General and bought $100 worth of stuff. We gave her some of what I had gotten.” 

Lott is one of the many good Samaritans around metro Atlanta trying to help during the outbreak of the coronavirus. 

She said outreach by her, co-president Susan Bowers and SSCMS PTO members has resulted in $1,200 in cash donations sent through Venmo. An additional $500 was donated by someone who came into the restaurant on Tuesday, she said. 

Donations include non-perishable foods and toiletries. Some fruits have been donated, as well as gift cards that are intended for the purchase of milk, eggs and other perishable items. 

Pick up and donation hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. 

“It’s good for the community,” said Jamal Samad. “People know our restaurant. When [Lott] asked my wife about our place, I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Mary Jackson and adult son Derick Bass live nearby at Winding River Village residential community and picked up donated items this week.

“I’m not in a panic,” said Bass, on the coronavirus and its impact. “My faith helps me to make it through this and to know that everything is going to be alright. But I am cautious about being clean and making sure that my mom is taken care of. She’s a senior.”

Lott said SSCMS PTO is trying to fill in the gaps of other services around Fulton County. “We are feeding anyone who walks through the door,” she added. “So far everyone has been gracious.” 

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