Celebrating Jeff and Sandy Brown's social justice work

on 17 April 2018

A note from Turning Points for Children: Jeff and Sandy Brown of Brown's Super Stores are one of the honorees at Kids at Heart 2018. Please join us in recognizing their impact in underserved and underprivileged communities in the Philadelphia region.  

Brown's Super Stores, led by Jeff Brown, Founder, President and CEO, and his wife, Sandy, In-store Branding and Media Relations Director, operate 13 supermarkets in and around Philadelphia.

We asked Jeff and Sandy Brown to share with us the most rewarding aspect of their work:

There are many things we find rewarding, particularly as we have seen our company grow over the last 30 years. However, some of our recent efforts with a social justice focus bring us the most pride. Operating stores in food deserts – an area where affordable fresh food is unavailable – puts us in communities with many societal challenges. Our work with opening supermarkets in areas where there is a lack of healthy, fresh and affordable food has been amazing. Additionally, helping to address the lack of job opportunities for many in those same communities who were previously incarcerated has been tremendously rewarding. Most businesses avoid hiring those who have been formerly incarcerated, which may be perceived as a risk. The greatest joy is seeing a person that has been written off by society, blossom into a department or store manager that is financially successful. They are able to start a family and become a productive member of society.

Jeff and Sandy have helped rejuvenate, transform and restore neighborhoods throughout the Philadelphia community. The Browns have taken their business model into neighborhoods where few businesses were willing to go. So why was it important for the Browns to open stores in food deserts? Sandy shared, “When we discovered that those in certain zip codes were destined to have a shorter lifespan, possibly as much as 20 years less than those living in higher income areas due to the lack of healthy and affordable food, we were shocked. This drove us to help address this horrible inequity. While it took us more than 15 years, we were able to eliminate them in seven areas of the city. We were able to help move Philadelphia from one of the worst cities in the country to one of the best as it pertained to food access.” 

Jeff had the honor of being chosen as a guest of the former First Lady, Michelle Obama, at President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address, in recognition of his work in solving the “food desert” crisis. 

Family is important to Jeff and Sandy, they are the proud parents of four sons. They tell us that their most favorite family activity is, “Sharing time together over family dinners and discussions with our young men on how to continue progress in both our business and society.”

The family’s role in the community extends beyond the grocery store operations through Uplift Solutions, the nonprofit they founded that supports food businesses, government and nonprofits to create sustainable environments for underserved communities. Uplift provides a training program for citizens returning to the community – and a commitment that if they finish the training process, they will have an opportunity to work in one of the Browns’ stores. So many individuals have been able to work in the same communities they return to, proving their commitment to change and living up to the second chance the Brown family helped them pursue.

“A number of the Brown family stores are in areas that impact families also served by Turning Points for Children. Not only are these communities being well served through nutritious food options at Brown’s supermarkets but their work with returning citizens through their nonprofit, Uplift Solutions is having a major impact on families as well,” said Dawn Holden Woods, CEO of Turning Points for Children.  

In addition to the influence the Brown family enterprise has had on many Turning Points for Children families, Brown's Super Stores provides a small grant each year to support Turning Points’ Food and Wellness Network (FAWN), which coordinates community-based food pantries offering nutritious food, infant formula, diapers, nutrition education, and other resource connections to poverty-level families in Philadelphia.   

“We hope to significantly improve on structural poverty, ensuring that we have a society that has opportunity for everyone,” said Jeff Brown.

Sometimes families need a second chance. Sometimes communities need a second chance too. Turning Points for Children recognize Jeff and Sandy Brown as being turning points for so many individuals and their communities throughout the Philadelphia region.  Join us at Kids at Heart May 3, 2018.