Good Neighbors, Good News: North Sandy Springs Pop-Up Food Pantry (by Amani Elkhatib)

Posted on May 13, 2020 by Philip Ian

What would you do if you were unable to feed your children in the midst of a global pandemic?

The inspiring efforts of one local community bring us together in a time of need. A pop-up food pantry first piloted to feed Sandy Springs Charter Middle School (Feed SSMS) has now expanded to provide aid to additional local schools. From the beginning, their mission has been to find a simple way to feed families who need it.

It all began the night the school system announced closure through the end of the school year in response to the spread of coronavirus. As the public navigates through COVID-19 and an unprecedented time, community members were quick to anticipate the uprising challenges. Jennifer Lott, active member of the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), said she “knew immediately that students would not receive meals the very next day” and for the foreseeable future. 

Jamal and Lesley Samad, owners of Samad Mediterranean Grill, received a call from Lott on Thursday evening March 12th asking if they would be willing to host a pop-up food pantry to serve the needs of North Sandy Springs schools. Lott says that Jamal and Lesley agreed “without hesitation.” 

By the very next day, word had spread through the school system and donations came pouring in. The food pantry was ready to help those in need and three families had formed a line ready to receive donations from their local community. 

Lesley tells just one example of inspiring generosity from a local customer who had visited regularly over the last two years for Samad’s falafel sandwich. She heard of their efforts one afternoon and returned with a truck full of groceries along with a $500 gift card. The pop-up food pantry has received donations from individuals, churches, mosques, synagogues and even local restaurants – “every day there is something that blows my mind with the generosity” says Lesley.

What began as a couple boxes of donations has now become a solid source of food security for many families. “It has really been amazing” says Lesley in reflecting on the reaction and kindness from the local community. 

The food pantry is currently going through $600 to $700 worth of groceries per day, items ranging from fruits/vegetables, rice and canned items, bread, and even hygiene items and dog food. The pantry has successfully been feeding over 150 families since the March closure. Although the food pantry began in response to the loss of school lunches for school children, Lesley affirms that they do not turn anyone away that comes in needing groceries and “as long as there is a need, we will be here.” The food pantry is open Monday – Friday from 11AM to 3PM.

If you would like to make a donation or join their efforts by volunteering, please see information listed below. 

Donations can be sent to:



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Operating Hours
  • Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays
  • 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
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