Food insecurity poses a major threat to families in the United States. As part of a Coronavirus Tracking Survey, one in four families with school-age children surveyed stated they were currently dealing with food insecurity. In Georgia, before the pandemic one in six children didn't have access to adequate amounts of food, but the number of folks seeking assistance from food banks since then has increased 300%.
In Atlanta, a community organizer, entrepreneur, and in-demand menswear model named Iyasu Dusé is looking change that. The Dusé Coffee Company founder has the goal of providing 25,000 meals to school-age children in 2021 via his non-profit organization, True Community Foundation. Through both his coffee company and TCF, Dusé seeks to make a positive impact in his local community. We spoke digitally Iyasu Dusé to learn more about his efforts, how the two entities intermingle, and what 2021 looks like for True Community Foundation.
This interview has been light edited and condensed for clarity.
By way of introductions, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and True Community Foundation?
My name is Iyasu Dusé, I am the Executive Director of True Community Foundation NPO here in Atlanta, Georgia. True Community Foundation focuses on serving as the long term solution in the fight against hunger while combatting mental illness and misdiagnosis within our public schools.
You also have a coffee brand, Dusé Coffee, that has a very community-focused mission. Can you tell us a little bit more about Dusé Coffee?
I began Dusé Coffee Company after spending two years in beautiful Medellin, Colombia on a family owned coffee farm. This is where I learned everything pertaining to the agricultural side of coffee. Before beginning this journey I took on the role of assisting my aunt who was struggling with schizophrenia here at home. Through this trial I saw first hand the pain, suffering, and loneliness those experiencing mental illness face. While living in Colombia, I decided that upon my return home that I would use the platform coffee provides to help those who believe they are out of reach and alone. Combatting mental illness became the focus and mission as coffee served as our creative approach in reaching people. Coffee serves almost as a trojan horse in our efforts to help those in need.
This past year while identifying our fitting, we aided over 600 people with garments and blankets during the winter of 2019/2020, worked with local non profits in providing over 500 meals for families and people in need, all before finding our calling with working with children in need. In doing so we did not hold back. We identified teachers, counselors, and schools that needed our help. We created an approach to execute that would assist kids in need with the upmost discretion and finally, executed.
How do the two brands—True Community and Dusé Coffee—intermingle and amplify?
True Community serves as our platform to execute, while Dusé Coffee serves as our community platform focused on communication and education pertaining to those who may need help or may have the means to help others.
How involved is the Atlanta coffee community at large with True Community?
As of recently we have been taking major steps towards immersing the coffee community directly with community impact. With this years Keeping Atlanta Warm drive our team collected over 3,000 new and lightly used garments to assist people who are experiencing homelessness during the winter season. Chrome Yellow Trading Co. played a major part in allowing us to use their space for a socially responsible drop and go set up. We had about five major shops on board to help partake this year. Where not able to use everyone for this mission but we have major plans for the majority of coffee shops in the Atlanta area helping us serve as a bridge between people in need and resources believed to be out of reach. This includes a widely known and respected international company within the coffee community on board with helping us initiate involvement while assisting our youth.
How many meals has TCF served to school-age children with food insecurity? And what is the goal for 2021?
To date we have served 3,000+ meals for kids in need, we are projected to served 25,000 meals throughout the course of 2021 targeting days that students are not in school to receive free and reduced meals. Our targeted goal will be 255 days out of 365 days of the year.
How can folks get involved with your cause, both locally and nationally?
We encourage people to stand with us in our fight against hunger and misdiagnosis for our kids in three ways.
- Don't hold your tongue, initiate the conversation! This is a real issue for thousands of kids nationwide.
- Join our petition. We aim to bring the community and local businesses specific opportunities to sponsor a child or children, select a weekend – holiday – or month to provide meals for our kids.
- Volunteer! If anyone is in the Atlanta area and wants to help us and our cause they can sign up to be a volunteer and choose what area they feel they will fit best.
All this can be found on our website.
Photos courtesy of Iyasu Dusé.