Dec 8, 2020 • 43M

Iyasu Dusé of the True Community Foundation on Small Moments of Kindness

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A note—we talk about mental health and illness extensively throughout this episode. If that’s something you don’t want to hear about, you might want to skip this episode.

Iyasu Dusé is the founder of the True Community Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to end childhood hunger and dispel misconceptions around mental health. These two issues might not seem to have much in common, but as Iyasu discusses in this episode, everything is connected—including his larger mission and the work he does in and around coffee.

Iyasu is also the founder of Dusé Coffee, and it was always part of his plan to incorporate coffee into his community service work. For Iyasu, coffee shops are more than places to sip well-made drinks—more, even, than community hubs. Coffee itself is a platform for social change. Even in the simplest ways—from a sign in the window welcoming everyone in to a message printed on a bag of beans—coffee has the potential to promote wider societal change.

Though Iyasu’s goals might seem far-reaching and monumental, he’s also a proponent of small moments of change. With members of the True Community Foundation, he visits coffee shops and passes out messages of encouragement to patrons. To hand someone a piece of paper that says, “You are enough” and “You are loved” can make a difference in someone else’s day, someone else’s life.

What unites both his bigger goals and smaller initiatives is that they center around coffee—which is unsurprising, given that Iyasu recognizes and utilizes the vast potential coffee has to change the world. As you listen to this episode, I hope you feel inspired to go back to the coffee shop you either work in or frequent and find a way to spark change—and share kindness.

One more note: Please listen all the way through this episode for updates on some of the projects we chat about. Since we recorded this episode, some of the dates of a few of these projects have shifted.

Ashley: So Iyasu, I was hoping you can introduce yourself for everybody.

Iyasu: All right. So my name is Iyasu Dusé. I am the executive director of True Community Foundation and the owner of Dusé Coffee. We’re based in Atlanta, Georgia—founded here. We’re here now, and we’re a very different type of company in the sense of our first, second, third, fourth, fifth priority is helping children and helping people in need throughout the city of Atlanta that might be dealing with mental illness. We just provide a bridge between resources and people in need throughout the city.

Ashley: Where does this story start for you? What inspired you to start this company?

Iyasu: Man? So my aunt—one of my aunts—was diagnosed with schizophrenia. A lot of the people, most people in my family, didn’t know what to really do. My aunt didn’t want to take medications. She didn’t want to see a doctor.

I studied psychology here at Georgia State and then finished in New York. But I had an understanding from when I was at Georgia State about what she was dealing with. And so when I saw nobody was really going to step up to help her but was gonna leave the situation to just pan out the way it was going to pan out, I stepped in and I watched over her for a while.

I made sure she was okay. I stayed with her and I really saw the dark side of that illness. Once I saw the other side of it, I saw how so many people deal with this and how easy it is to fall into that place in life. It was a very interesting and very hard time.

And thankfully I experienced that before leaving to go live in Columbia—Medellín—where I learned coffee. I stayed on a farm and it was past relationships, her family owned the farm and everything else. But I was able to leave and then go stay in this beautiful place where I was able to contemplate and reflect on what I had just learned and what I had just experienced helping my aunt. That’s where kind of the two married, but it was a very hard and traumatic time. And so that’s where my passion for helping people with mental illness came from, and also where my love of coffee came from.

When I left and stayed in Colombia it was almost like a mini paradise, but with that, there’s just so much room and opportunity to think into and grow and to be with yourself.

That was the biggest thing. It was just me. When I moved there, I wasn’t fluent in Spanish and it was a lot of sign language and pointing at things and it was a lot of scraping by—thankfully the people I was staying with were like family, and it just encouraged me to learn Spanish very quickly.

But during that time, I couldn’t communicate with anyone. And so I’m on the side of a mountain in this mini paradise and I can’t speak to anyone. So it really allowed me to reflect on what I had just experienced and how I could do something about it as far as impact and how I could actually make a difference with something within me, you know?

I went to Medellín because I specifically wanted to learn about coffee. I wanted to learn the agricultural side before I learned the customer service side. I was there learning how to plant and harvest. They had a roaster on site, so I learned how to roast and [about] importing and exporting—taxes, tariffs, everything.

But while I was doing that, it became so clear to me. I was like, “This is the ground zero point of every community, every society, no matter what, no matter where you are, you literally have a coffee shop. You have a place where the community comes together to meet. So why on earth would I allow something that huge to just be a place where you can grab a beverage?”

It’s always going to be a place to grab incredible coffee and [maybe] that’s the sole purpose of it, but let’s use it for something that could possibly change millions of lives if possible. [Coffee shops can] really be that monumental platform internationally. For me, I was like coffee is everywhere, but also mental illness is everywhere—so let’s do something about it.

Ashley: So it made sense to combine the two when you came back from Colombia?

Iyasu: Yeah, for me, it was like, “If I’m going to do it, I’m going to definitely combine the two, there’s no way around that.”

Ashley: So what was that like when you came back from Colombia ready and raring to go—what did you do?

Iyasu: I took it very seriously in the sense of, I wanted to learn everything about every aspect of the business. So I had spent time in Colombia. I learned the agricultural side and what happens on a farm with farmers. But when I came back, I wanted to learn the business side and also the customer service side. Because I was in the performing arts, I was good with communication and people and approaching individuals and stuff like that.

So I worked as a manager. I worked as a barista. I worked corporate. I worked for three companies specifically so that I could get a feel of a mom-and-pop shop, a corporation, and I call it a “new age” shop—a business that started within four years that [is going over milestones]—to get a feel of what they’re doing, how that works, and how I could learn so I could do it for myself.

And so when I came back, I wanted to learn those things, and so I did.

Ashley: That’s awesome. I mean, not to be flippant, but that’s a lot more research than most business owners of coffee shops do before they opened their own businesses. I think it’s super common for people to be like, “Oh, I’m just going to open up a coffee shop. That seems easy!”

But it seems like you have this bigger idea that there are so many points of connection in communities. And there are so many ways that people are affected by hunger, mental illness … Why don’t I connect them [together] in places that we all meet?

So your business touches on a lot of different things. It touches on mental health as you said, it touches on coffee, but it also touches on food insecurity and hunger. So how did—this feels like a lot.

Iyasu: Yeah. There’s a lot, but what’s interesting is it fell into place. It fell into place on its own. I knew that my love for coffee and my love for helping people was going to be what was going to be the foundation of it all. I knew mental health had to be the core and center of it all as well.

I was actually approached while we were just doing community work, while we were helping people that were outside in the cold months and outside in the hot months. And while we were doing things in the community, I was approached by four counselors. Well, two teachers, two counselors, and they didn’t know each other. They all were tied into different schools. They had never met each other before in their lives. And they said the same thing, they said, “Hey, is there something that you think you can do for kids in school? Because I see a lot of issues being a counselor, I see a lot of issues being a teacher that I don’t really know how to address. I feel it does tie in with mental health.”

And immediately, I was like, “Tell me more. What are the things?” I had one teacher tell me that misdiagnosis is just running rampant in the sense of a kid experiences food insecurity at home, is not eating enough, comes to school and can’t focus and might be labeled as dyslexic, or might be labeled as disruptive because they might be uneasy or upset or rowdy. Due to that, they’re prescribed medication that they might not actually need. Simply because they’re hungry.

Ashley: Yeah. That’s a huge point. I used to be a teacher back in 2009, 2010. And we would get training on so many different things—on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, of how to do differentiated learning, all of these things. But I was never once trained on how to identify kids who are struggling outside the classroom. No one ever told me maybe a child who is not able to focus doesn’t have food at home, or maybe a child who is acting out in class needs something else that is outside of the classroom. It’s pretty jarring how little training teachers are given about the things outside of the classroom that they can’t necessarily control within the confines of the classroom—but can address in services, or being able to talk to counselors and things like that. And I imagine that that’s something you’ve probably had to deal with as well.

Iyasu: Definitely. One of the counselors [said], “The first question should be, ‘Are you hungry?’” Whether [a child is] or not, or whether they’re going through something or not … like literally every single time that she has somebody that comes into her office with some issues or is going through something, she said it was around almost 50/50—two out of four people, when she asks they’re immediately like, “Yes, I need something to eat,” and then she can dig into, “Are you hungry altogether? Is there food at home? What’s going on?”

Just that one approach by that one individual has changed that bubble around her and around her students. And so what she was saying, of course, that needs to be the first question for everybody. If that’s the first question, then we can at least start a conversation there, you know?

Ashley: It’s so powerful—the idea that just one person can ask just one question. The idea of food insecurity, especially for children, feels like a huge, daunting problem, right? You say it out loud, even right now, and you’re like, “Wow, there are so many kids that we have to help,” but small interventions are incredibly pivotal.

Iyasu: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s what we’re trying to do. It’s funny because we don’t have a massive, massive platform yet. We’re not 30 people deep, as far as who’s a part of the team. We have eight people and everybody has been impacted in some way by either a child who they knew—or they were that child. We’re just trying to take each step one step at a time.

We took our first step, actually! We provided over 3,000 lunches this year, COVID year, 2020, to kids who were experiencing food insecurity at home. We literally just did that to try—we did a little R&D, research and development, and we wanted to see how many kids were in this position.

How much food did they need? How much would it take? What would the price points be? Is it just you, is it your family as well? How many siblings do you have at home? Are your parents in a better position as well? Do they need food too?

So we provided a lot of food this year for a lot of kids and a lot of kids’ families. And it was interesting because every single school we approached latched on to our program, it was just like, yeah, we have kids [who need food].

The first school was 64 kids plus their siblings plus their parents. That number got up there pretty quickly. And so we did what—and we’re actually gonna do full-time next year—is work directly with schools in Henry County with our program that we’ve developed to provide dinner for children that only eat at school with the utmost discretion, and for them to take [food] home with them, for them and their families if needed through or during any furlough holiday and every seasonal break, winter, spring, summer, and fall, and throughout the weekends from January 15 all the way through December 31. We’re going to be doing that and getting the method and the approach perfect so that we can execute it on a larger scale.

Ashley: Can you talk a little bit about those gaps? I think when we talk about food insecurity and children specifically, we talk about free and reduced school lunch primarily, but we don’t often talk about kids who don’t have food on the weekends or summer or breaks.

Iyasu: The system in place is actually a great one. I think that the city of Atlanta is doing a great job with helping kids in school. But the thing that people don’t ask or don’t even see, of course, because it’s not in front of our faces, is that okay, they have to go home. If [kids] are receiving free lunch at school they might not have anything at home. So that one time they’re eating is the only time they’re eating during the day. And a lot of kids will be able to get breakfast and lunch, but [what if the school] buses arrive late? There might be a student that takes a little longer if they miss that, if the bus arrives late and they miss breakfast then it really is that one meal that they’re receiving during the day. And that’s something the counselors have brought to my attention as well, that they know many students that only eat that one meal. And so the school programs are set in place, but what we’re trying to do is help kids when they’re not in school.

Ashley: I imagine that this must be exacerbated now during COVID when so many students are home right now. I think the national conversation has often been about students maybe falling behind or not having access to educational resources, which is key, let’s be clear—that’s still incredibly important, but we’re not as much talking about the gap in food.

Iyasu: Since COVID began, I’ve seen more talk and more buzz around the subject—more than I’ve ever seen. But even with that, the attention is on right now. Kids being out of school and knowing how things go, especially with media, especially with the country, then you move on. Once the kids go back to school, this might be an issue that is just forgotten again or it falls through the cracks and we still have this massive issue.

The issue was never when the kids were at home, the issue was when they were in school. And so the issue just multiplied when kids weren’t in school anymore. And I commend Cobb County and Henry County and all the different counties in Atlanta and near Atlanta that provided free meals and allowed kids to come to school and get free meals while they were at home. But once kids go back to school, the issue’s still there. It still stands. This is a marathon, not a sprint. So what we’re trying to do as a company is we’re trying to be the long-term solution for this problem. We’re trying to not forget about it, not look over and, once things get a little better, as far as kids going back, not completely forget about the fact that it’s never been about kids being in school, it’s when they go home.

Ashley: That’s a really good point. So how does coffee connect to your larger mission?

Iyasu: Coffee, coffee, coffee. I see coffee as the platform and the voice to be able to reach people. That’s what I see the coffee company as—it’s the communication and the education that we can provide to an entire community of people who love coffee. Everybody loves coffee, coffee and tea. So with this platform, we can literally reach people who we generally wouldn’t be able to reach, and inform and educate people on this issue. Parents and grandparents and friends and families and soon-to-be parents and et cetera on this problem and how they can help.

Ashley: So you have the True Community Foundation, which if you go to the website gives you a ton of information about the work that you do to end childhood hunger and how you address the connection between mental illness and childhood hunger. And then you have Dusé Coffee, that’s a different website, and that’s where you can buy coffee. Can you talk a little bit about some of the ways the two companies are connected? So when someone goes to Dusé Coffee and they buy a bag of beans, let’s say, what kind of impact does that have? How is holding that bag of coffee ideally going to activate someone to take action?

Iyasu: From the packaging to the bio, to even everything about the coffee, we wanted that to reflect the mission. Our seal says, “Fighting against mental illness in the city of Atlanta,” and it starts to question, okay, what type of mental illness [or] how are you guys fighting against it? Our different coffees. They just have personalities of their own, like we have our Valor coffee—or we were bringing it back in 2021. And Valor specifically [highlights] veterans who served and people in the military. We wanted to raise awareness on the fact that these guys and girls might be experiencing PTSD, they might be experiencing homelessness right now.

The facts are just astounding as far as how many people have come back from overseas and are experiencing homelessness right now and aren’t able to get help because they’re not in … [our line of sight]. They’re experiencing a mental illness on a drastic level. We packaged and created the packaging to specifically talk about that.

“Huduma” is Swahili for services. On our Ugandan single-origin coffee, we specifically talk about on the packaging how mental health is so important within the service industry. The numbers are really ugly as far as suicide rates and overdose rates and alcohol abuse rates in the service industry. We do things, particularly in Atlanta, to help fight against that by working with companies like The Giving Kitchen and by going to different bars and actually having that conversation with bartenders and servers and people in the industry and providing that bridge as well for them.

It’s been impactful, it has been powerful. I know through that coffee alone, we were approached by restaurants right off the bat on what can we provide for their staff in order to provide resources and be a bridge for them if they ever need it. Just to see that it’s like, it’s coffee. A company reaching out just based on the bag, I feel like that’s definitely … that’s just powerful. That’s impactful. That’s definitely the purpose of it all. The coffee is the education.

Ashley: It’s pretty incredible to see just how far-reaching your organization goes. At the beginning we started talking about children and food insecurity, and we talked obviously about mental health and mental illness, and it just keeps going. You talk about mental health for service workers. On the website, you talk about mental health for teens. You just talked about mental health services for veterans. And I think, at first glance, it could feel like, “Oh my goodness, there’s so much.” But I think when you were talking earlier about how we’re all connected by coffee in some way, we’ve all been to a coffee shop, we’ve all used a coffee shop as a place to gather, or we’ve met people there. It all sort of makes sense when you think about it like that.

Iyasu: Yeah. I wanted to say, I said this earlier, but almost every associate that I’m working with now, I probably met in a coffee shop. All from different walks of life, from different businesses and backgrounds, strong points, and et cetera. I kid you not, I think everybody I’m working with, I met in a coffee shop—that says enough right there. Coffee is literally a platform that can change the world because it’s everywhere, it touches every community, it touches everybody. I just want that platform to also be a beacon for change as far as mental health and helping people who might not think that there’s help out there or might think that there’s relief. I was, if you’re in Atlanta, I don’t know if we can say names of coffee shops.

Ashley: Yeah, go ahead.

Iyasu: I was in Chrome Yellow once. We were doing something we call “Caring Cups,” and basically it’s an origami cup that we put a Jolly Rancher in. We write words of encouragement to combat against depression and anxiety and stress and et cetera … just letting people know in Atlanta that they’re loved and that somebody’s thinking about them and write something encouraging. Every single Caring Cup is written by somebody, a different individual; no two notes are the same. So I was making them with a group of people at Chrome Yellow and a lady, a good friend of mine now, came up to us wanting to know what we were doing, and she filled out one of her own.

She filled it out—it was inside and out, just all words of encouragement. “You’ll be okay,” and “Don’t give in,” and et cetera, et cetera. So just through the connection, through a coffee shop, and through doing good and trying to change someone’s life and let someone know that they’re loved.

When I gave her one [of the Caring Cups] that we were already making, she just broke down in tears because it was what she needed to see. It was what she needed to hear. She couldn't believe that people cared enough to write down something like “You are loved” on a piece of paper and give it to a stranger. She couldn’t believe it. Little did I know she was dealing with all those things at home behind closed doors.

We’re still in contact now. Before COVID, she actually would come to our events and talk to people about the situation. It’s wild because, at our last event, there were two individuals that I got the same kind of feeling from when I was speaking to them, that she spoke to that also came out with dealing with the same thing.

It was interesting because, before my very eyes, I was able to see them decide whether they were comfortable enough because that's such a vulnerable thing. Imagine saying that to someone that you’re dealing with these things. Immediately, society would probably be like, you're dangerous. Get away from me. Oh, you’re crazy. I don’t want to be around you. And so I was able to see them make the decision because they met her to open up and receive help. We were able to get them help as well.

Ashley: It just speaks to the power of really small gestures, being somewhere and giving something. And it doesn’t have to be big—just giving that origami cup, saying, “You are loved.” You never know what someone needs at any given moment. And what’s the worst thing that can happen at that moment? Like somebody scoffs, like, ha ha whatever. Okay, fine. But then you might reach the person who needs the most, that you might not know needed it.

Iyasu: I’ve never had an experience with someone who wasn’t either in tears when I gave it to them or when somebody on my team has given it to them and they were overjoyed at the fact that somebody even cared enough to write it. It’s so simple. It’s so simple. It’s a Jolly Rancher and a piece of paper, but it is so impactful. And that’s what captivates me. How you can really change lives and change the undertone and the circumstance within a city just by thinking outside the box with doing something simple like that, you know?

Ashley: I think that’s important for baristas to hear because we interact with people so often and we interact often with the same people every day. And it can be for a minute, it can be for five minutes. I think it’s easy to forget for a lot of people going into the coffee shop, or seeing a barista, or getting that latte with a heart or whatever you put in it, is often for a lot of people the best part of their day.

Iyasu: Yeah. 100%.

Ashley: It’s important for baristas to hopefully take this in and think, even just a smile or a compliment … and to be clear, service work is incredibly labor-intensive, the emotional labor required to do service work is incredibly difficult. But I also want to encourage folks to remember that very small gestures can mean so much.

Iyasu: Yeah. Trust me. I’ve been there as well. You wake up super early, it might not be the best day, there’s a lot of people who might be rude or standoffish that you might see. You know, then you get to that really nice individual that’s very kind, but what would click with me when I was a barista was like, I really did see on a day to day [basis] with myself how literally every interaction I had was impacting someone’s life. I had the power to either send you off with a negative and bad taste in your mouth, or whether I was there to hand you a beverage that you’ve been looking forward to, you drove all the way here for, and then you go about your day and you have a great day, I at least push the energy towards you having a great day.

It could be something that [I did that] helped you get there. There’s so much power in how you treat others and how you give off that energy, that positivity. As baristas and as people in coffee, like we literally have so much power because we are the first thing people see during the day, most times, we give them that cup of joy that they need before they go and tackle the world, you know? Literally, their first interactions are with us a lot of the time. And so you really have a lot of power in your hands, whether you can make or break a person’s day.

Ashley: Tell me about some of the projects you’re working on for the end of the year.

Iyasu: So this week, Thanksgiving week, we are doing our annual Keeping Atlanta Warm drive. Our first year, I did it with just family and friends. I probably raised maybe 50 garments? Last year we were able to get 600 and that’s hats, scarves, blankets, jackets, thermals, et cetera. And this year, we’re estimated to have over 3,000 because we’ve gotten so many companies that are throwing clothes and garments at us that are brand new, just wanting to get them in people’s hands that might be outside stuck in the winter after the climate changes.

We actually were able to work with Adidas recently, as far as helping the polling stations and veterans during Veterans Day. Something we did during our voting day—we went around Atlanta and identified different vets and went to different non-profits and tried to connect people back with the VA and provide resources and et cetera, and Adidas gave us over 5k worth of stuff, and amongst that stuff was thermals.

We’re going to be using those thermals again this year as well for our Keeping Atlanta Warm drive. That’s going to be this week—keep a lookout for us on Instagram, which is @truecommunityfoundation, and our website, which is for updates. If you have—it’s a term, it’s like “lightly loved” or “gently loved” clothes and garments, things that of course are washed, please, and intact, something that somebody could use in the colder months, that’s going to be this Saturday.

Ashley: That’s awesome. So it could be as simple as a coffee shop or a community hub getting in touch with you and saying, “Hey, can we set a box out to collect gently used items?”

Iyasu: Yes, yes, yes, yes! Just a little information about why we do that: So everything ties back with mental health. Hypothermia, as I said earlier, is one of the worst ways to go. It’s just not something I think is humane as far as how somebody should ever pass away. There are so many people left outside during the winter after the seasons change. With no options, a lot of the shelters are full, stacked every single night and people are just outside.

Talking to our friends over at Grady [Health Systems] and digging into the physical aspect of what you know hypothermia is and what it does to your body and how it affects you … what’s interesting is when a human being is left outside in extreme weather conditions, like extreme heat—101, 102, 105 degrees [Fahrenheit]—or in very cold conditions, like 10 degrees, 20 degrees, like whatever Georgia is feeling during the year, your body fluctuates so often that it actually, after a point, just gives up.

Something that I would see when I would be on the street and handing out stuff is people who have been on the street for a long period of time, their hands and their feet are three or four times the size because the body just says, I’m going to be ready for whatever weather condition it is.

People in that situation are more prone to blood clots, strokes, heart disease, and definitely mental illness. Just like your hands and feet can fluctuate in size, so does your brain, so does your head, so does every part of your body. What we’re trying to do, one, is raising awareness on this issue every single year, making sure that people know people are outside and if they can help to please help.

But also to meet people where they are and just load them up, load them up with ponchos for when it rains and their stuff doesn’t get soaked, and then freezes at night, and then they’re in so close when it’s 20 degrees—it’s things like that. Loading them up with socks and jackets and hats and gloves and et cetera … And so we’re drastically growing as far as our annual drive. That’s going to be this week.

Ashley: How can coffee shops get involved in some of the other initiatives you’re involved in?

Iyasu: So yeah, it’s going to be very fun. So to start the year off, January 15 for kids when they go back to school, we’re actually working with Oatly. One of the fundraisers that we’re doing is with Oatly and we’re working with coffee shops that are going to derive either a very popular drink on their menu or create an entire [new] drink and the proceeds will go to the [school] lunches directly. Oatly is going to be providing all the milk for these shops. We’re going to be doing this throughout the month of December and January. We’re looking at trying to have at least 65 shops in the Southeast and on the East Coast on board to raise funds for the kids’ lunches, because lunches take money to provide, dinners take money to provide.

And so that’s one way that people can help. If you know somebody who owns a shop, if you own a shop, if you’re a manager at a shop and you want to take part, please reach out to us.

Another way is the petition that we’re starting this week. So we’re asking 250 people to donate 100 dollars each. We’re focusing this on this week, Thanksgiving week, Black Friday week, Cyber Monday week, because we understand people have budgets for those things. If you have 100 dollars in your budget that you want to do some good with, you want to give to a charity, help us, please help us out. Throw that our way. A hundred dollars provides 10 dinners for kids to eat—10! We’ve gotten the price down to $10 a dinner for them for us to be able to provide the kid with the take-home [food] for them.

And 250 people giving a hundred bucks will provide all the dinners that we need for an entire quarter, the first quarter of next year. Our approach is we’re focusing on 150 kids in Henry County to be a part of our program to receive lunches or dinners. Every holiday, every furlough, every weekend, and throughout every winter, spring, summer, and fall break.

If you have the means, please send that our way. The links and all the information on where your money is going and how it’s going to be broken down is going to be on our website. We’re actually launching that today going into this week. And it’s going to be open all the way through January 15 when kids go back to school. So if you have the means, please do it.

And we also ask that if you can identify five people around you that might have the means to be able to do it as well. If they can, insist that they find five people around them that can do the same thing. We definitely need all the help we can get as far as providing these lunches. And so if you can, please do, please spread the word.

Ashley: Iyasu, thank you so much for joining me.

Iyasu: Thank you for having me. Thank you so much.

If you want to learn more about the True Community Foundation, check out their website and follow them on Instagram.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Updates from Iyasu: The Keeping Atlanta Warm drive will now be hosted Friday, [December] 11 from 3-5 p.m. at Chrome Yellow, and they’re working on a second drop-off location (check out their Instagram for updates).

After working with Oatly on the best time to have their fundraiser, they decided that the month of February would be the best fit—the True Community Foundation will run this fundraiser for the entire month of February with 65+ shops.

Their official “Petition Week,” to encourage patrons to make direct donations, will begin Monday, December 7, leading into the Keeping Atlanta Warm Drive. If you donate $100+ to the True Community Foundation, you’ll receive two free bags of their Community Blend from Dusé Coffee. Donations will directly pay for lunches and dinners for children in the Atlanta area. The True Community Foundation is also looking for matching sponsors, so please reach out if you’re interested.

Lastly, the True Community Foundation will be working with 50 specific kids in Henry County as opposed to 150 kids. This change reflects a desire to work more closely with the families of children affected by hunger.

If you want to learn more about the True Community Foundation, check out their website and follow them on Instagram.