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Alex Rodriguez, Jennifer Lopez donation helps school feed Tennessee county

By
Alex Butler
Jennifer Lopez and former MLB star Alex Rodriguez launched the Tiller & Hatch Supply Co. Oct. 21, with a portion of the proceeds from the food sales benefiting shelters and charities working to fight hunger. Photo by Chris Chew/UPI
Jennifer Lopez and former MLB star Alex Rodriguez launched the Tiller & Hatch Supply Co. Oct. 21, with a portion of the proceeds from the food sales benefiting shelters and charities working to fight hunger. Photo by Chris Chew/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Celebrity couple Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez's recent food donation to an elementary school helped that school feed thousands of children at other schools in Campbell County, Tenn.

Lopez and Rodriguez used their new Tiller & Hatch Supply Co. frozen food line to donate one year's worth of meals to the school before the brand launched publicly. Donations from others enabled the school to open a food pantry and provide surplus food so other schools could start similar pantries.

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More than 10 other schools in Campbell County received food as a result of the donations sent to Jacksboro Elementary, including three restaurant-grade freezers, hundreds of meals and 12 pressure cookers from Tiller & Hatch.

Thanks to word spreading, donations are coming people in from California, Alaska, New York and several other states.

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It all started with a Facebook post from Jacksboro Elementary first-grade teacher Brooke Goins, whose message Oct. 2 said she cried at work after one of her students told her he wasn't getting enough food at home.

Goins and other teachers initially put money together and bought food for the boy to last through his fall break. Her Facebook post then went viral, catching the attention of people around the country, including Rodriguez and Lopez.

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Goins' initial post has nearly 100,000 interactions on Facebook.

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"You wouldn't believe the donations we received at first," said Goins, a mother of three. "It was so overwhelming. Our whole county is so poverty stricken here. It's crazy we were able to reach out to other schools and get their food pantry started, too."

Campbell County is part of a school nutrition program that gives free breakfast and lunch to students. The meal service option is for schools and school districts in low-income areas, and Campbell County is one of the poorest counties in Tennessee.

Goins said the once-hungry boy's family doesn't know their son sparked the donations. He is one of many students who participate in a backpack program, which provides snacks and easily prepared meal items for children to take home and eat after school and on weekends.

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More than 4,000 Tennessee children are served through the program. More than 600 students attend Jacksboro Elementary, a pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade school.

"Our entire school is really excited about it," Goins said. "The kids have started getting Monday meals so now instead of weekend meals, they are getting food throughout the week to take home."

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Lopez inspired by mother

"You know, my mom was a teacher," Lopez said in a FaceTime video with Goins and her students, announcing the donation. "It was such a moving story for us that we wanted to help."

Lopez posted the conversation with Goins and other teachers Oct. 23 on her social media accounts. She also showed a white truck arriving at Jacksboro Elementary and delivering boxes of the meals to the students.

"[Lopez] told us her mom was actually a teacher so she knows what teachers do," Goins said. "You take care of the kids first and then you try to teach them what you are supposed to. She knows first-hand what we do every day. That's what led her to wanting to help us."

Tiller & Hatch's initial line features eight restaurant-quality dishes. A portion of the proceeds from all sales benefit a variety of shelters and charities working to fight hunger.

"This is an option we wish had been available to our families growing up," Rodriguez said in a news release. "We are committed, like Tiller & Hatch, to doing good. This partnership offers us the opportunity to provide affordable and nutritious meals to families across America while making significant charitable contributions to shelters and food-based charities across the country."

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