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The Grove Park community has grappled with food insecurity for years. A lack of essential businesses such as grocery stores or pharmacies has turned this area into what is known as a food desert.
The coronavirus has only exacerbated these problems, shuttering local food pantries and meat markets around the area. Additionally, many members of the community have lost their jobs in industries that have slowed since the start of the pandemic.
In an effort to help the residents in Grove Park, PAWKids, a family enrichment center founded by LaTonya Gates, will open Claudia’s House on July 14 to provide cooked meals, food items, hygiene products and more to the community.
Claudia’s House started after PAWKids received overwhelming donations of food and funds to feed people from local churches, nonprofits, businesses, community groups, and individuals—including rappers Killer Mike and T.I. The food pantry and neighborhood resource center were named after Gate’s grandmother Claudia Kemp, who raised her while Gates’ mother was in and out of prison.
“She had fourteen kids living in her house, and she took care of the whole community,” Gates said in a prepared statement. “She didn’t have much, but she would take a little and make so much out of it. She saved us.”
With more food than they had storage space, Gates leased a nearby building. They’re hoping to raise $180,000 in six months to purchase the building.
Claudia’s House will be open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Grove Park residents can visit the building to fill out an application to receive meals, and PAWKids volunteers will deliver meals to those who are unable to leave their homes.
[Editor’s note: The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is rapidly evolving as is its effect on Atlanta, and the City’s businesses and its residents. Click here for What Now Atlanta’s ongoing coverage of the crisis. For guidance and updates on the pandemic, please visit the C.D.C. website.]