Did you know that one in seven Gwinnett residents is experiencing hunger or food insecurity? Or that 53% of students at Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) receive free or reduced lunch? Many are surprised to learn about the scope of food insecurity in our county, especially considering its reputation as a prosperous metro Atlanta hub. In fact, every single county in the US has some form of food insecurity. And unlike some other issues, food insecurity isn’t always visible and isn’t often spoken about publicly, making it difficult to spot and solve without widespread collaboration from the community.
That’s why the groundbreaking food co-op, Satisfeed, is putting all hands on deck to bring together resources, donations, local organizations and people power to tackle this issue head on. And thanks to the mass support from our very own community, the Gwinnett nonprofit’s ability to fight hunger and food insecurity has grown practically exponentially since its founding in 2018! But it’s not just about providing food – Satisfeed is committed to nourishing people in all aspects of their lives in order to help our community thrive together.
“We start with food because we know hunger interferes with healing,” Satisfeed’s founder Tim Turner says. “In the big picture, we feed people physically, financially, emotionally, socially, relationally and spiritually. Our vision is the satisfy the needs of the hungry in and around Gwinnett County.”
Tim Turner, longtime resident of Gwinnett and father of five, was inspired to dedicate his efforts toward fighting food insecurity after meeting Chad Hale, founder of the major Atlanta food co-op Urban Recipe, and learning more about his work.
“I didn’t realize that there was that kind of hunger issue in Atlanta,” Tim says. “And it really disturbed me. Because I thought, we live in ‘the breadbasket of the world’. It doesn’t make sense that there is hunger, that there is food insecurity, that there are food deserts in this country.”
Tim then discovered that 53% of GCPS students receive free or reduced lunch, meaning that 100,000 of our community’s children aren’t fed by the school during the 10 weeks of summer. Driven to take action, he kicked off a brown bag lunch distribution program almost 10 years ago, in the summer of 2012. As word spread and donations flowed in, Tim continued distributing brown bag lunches to GCPS students every summer, going from 5,000 meals served in 2014 to over 25,000 meals served in 2018. But considering that 100,000 students don’t receive summer lunches from the school, Tim realized this was barely scratching the surface.
So, deciding it was time to expand his efforts, Tim officially launched the food co-op Satisfeed in the fall of 2018. And in the three action-packed, emotional but rewarding years since then, the Gwinnett nonprofit’s reach has grown exponentially.
“In September of ’18, we served seven families and about 600 pounds of food,” Tim says. “And in February of ‘20, we served 51 families and 4,000 pounds of food. But when the pandemic hit that first month, March of ’20, we served 463 families and 9,800 pounds of food. And so, we went from two Saturdays a month serving 40-some-odd families, to every Saturday. And in August of , we served 1,300 families and 60,000 pounds of food. Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve served in excess of a million pounds of food.”
As we all know, food insecurity has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, but the good news is that there has been even more support than ever before. The tremendous efforts by local organizations, generous donations and dedicated volunteers have empowered Satisfeed to drastically expand their resources, storage capacity, equipment and breadth of programs. Thanks to The Scott Hudgens Family Foundation, the CARES Act, the Atlanta Community Food Bank (the largest food bank in the US!) and so much more, thousands of deserving Gwinnett families are feeling the love and support of the community.
Major grocers and restaurants like Kroger and Panera are also pitching in, providing free materials and tons of food donations – food that’s in perfect condition, but would have otherwise been sent to a landfill. These game-changing collaborations are a testament to the fact that pooling resources together and teaming up with others to pursue a common goal makes a world of difference.
Satisfeed has also collaborated with awesome organizations like Gwinnett Cares, Helping Mamas (a nonprofit that provides free supplies for mothers and babies) and the Gwinnett County Public Library. They even partnered with the Good Samaritan Health Centers of Gwinnett to give families free medical assessments on Saturdays while they pick up their food. It’s another demonstration of Satisfeed’s powerful mission to enrich the people of our community in all areas of life, not just with food.
And the nonprofit has even more groundbreaking plans and programs on the way! In early 2022, Satisfeed is launching an English learners’ program and citizenship program to further empower local families.
And this empowerment is only possible with the tremendous help of volunteers, local organizations and donors – not just monetarily, but through supplies, food, connections and so much more. It’s a truly rewarding experience to help the people of our community directly and be a part of such a worthy team effort. Satisfeed’s remarkable growth shows just how much has been and is yet to be accomplished. And volunteering is such a rewarding experience that you’ll keep coming back for more.
“One Saturday morning, my son and daughter came to visit me while we were distributing because [my son] was helping [my daughter] move her stuff and needed my pickup truck,” Tim says. “When they came back to drop off the truck, [my daughter] says to [my son], ‘Don’t you wanna come over and say hi to Dad?’ And he said, ‘I can’t.’ And she looked at him and said, ‘But it’s Dad!’ And he said, ‘Look, if I go over and say hi to Dad, I am going to want to stay and help and I can’t today.’
“I base my volunteers on the premise of show and tell. I truly believe that if I can get anyone on my campus during distribution to see and experience what we’re doing, they will want to come back. And it’s just that simple.”
In need of resources? Satisfeed is here to help! Click here to learn more and receive free resources. Or text FREEFOOD to 33222 and receive real-time updates about food delivery and pick-up times and locations!
Want to get involved? Satisfeed is grateful for your support! Sign up here to volunteer or click here to learn more about partnering. Or text ENDHUNGERNOW to 33222 and get general updates about events, volunteer opportunities and more.
Watch this video to see Satisfeed’s impact in action!