Michael "Killer Mike" Render hands out meals with PAWkids founder Latonya Gates at Bankhead Seafood Market. / GPB News

As Atlanta-area rapper Michael "Killer Mike" Render stood in a face mask in front of Bankhead Seafood Market, he spoke of his passion for the Grove Park community.

He, alongside fellow rapper Tip "T.I." Harris, purchased the restaurant after its closure in 2018. Render grew up on the west side of Atlanta and he shared fond memories of eating there as a child.

"T.I. and I went in and bought a business and wanted to keep it going. And in the middle of that, a pandemic happened," he said. "So, whether money is being made the priority is human beings and people. People need to eat."

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Harris and Render have partnered with the Atlanta nonprofit organization PAWkids to distribute 1,000 meals each week to families in need in the area. 

The partnership kicked off this afternoon at the restaurant's parking lot, where volunteers were handing out brown bags of food and household items to cars that passed by.

PAWkids founder and director Latonya Johnston stood alongside Render to pass out bags. She said that in spite of the pandemic, the community in Grove Park has never felt more unified.

"There is so much love here and we're in this together," she said. "It's time to get out, get busy, and take care of your people."

Johnston said the need to provide food for the area is magnified by the fact that the aready was already a "food desert."

Four years ago, the neighborhood's Food Giant shut down, leaving many in the area without nearby access to groceries or a means to fill prescriptions. 

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As the coronavirus pandemic intensified across the city, a neighborhood that was already reeling from limited access to essentials felt the strain.

"We realized we had to step in and do something or things weren't going to be good," she said.

For Render, he attributes his desire to step up and give back to his upbringing in Grove Park.

"Giving back is not something you do just in times of pandemic," he said. "It is a part essential part of the human existence that comes from living on the west side."

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Michael "Killer Mike" Render and PAWkids founder LaTonya G. Johnston speak outside Bankhead Seafood. / GPB News

A volunteer hands out food at the Bankhead Seafood Market.

A volunteer hands out food at the Bankhead Seafood Market. / GPB News

A volunteer passes out food outside Bankhead Seafood.

A volunteer passes out food outside Bankhead Seafood. / GPB News