University kickstarts food donation initiatives

University kickstarts food donation initiatives

Participants in Second Helping donate food to the West Alabama Food Bank off McFarland. CW | Layton Dudley

Two food drive initiatives on campus hope to make dietary donations a year-round act from the students at The University of Alabama.

The newest initiative is Second Helping from the SGA. It has already donated 1,300 pounds of food to the West Alabama Food Bank in the organization's first month, said Virginia Pittman, director of the initiative. 

Second Helping volunteers collect leftover food from greek houses on Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and then meet at the Phi Delta Theta house’s front porch where food is temperature-checked, weighed and catalogued for delivery, Pittman said.

About 15 kitchens across campus have already signed up, and Pittman continues to reach out across campus to get others involved and raise awareness for the initiative, said Catherine Faust, the SGA’s director of media relations.

Pittman said she aims to get as many organizations involved to be able to donate as much food as possible. She would like to get enough people involved to donate food three to four times a week.

She is currently working on partnering with Alpha Mu Omega, a service program on campus.

“They have refrigerated trucks,” Pittman said. “I would just love to be able to fill one of those trucks with food one day.”

Another initiative is Swipe Away Hunger (SAH) where students can donate guest swipes from their meal plans as full Thanksgiving meals at the East Tuscaloosa Community Soup Bowl.

Juan Carrasquilla, a coordinator of SAH, said each year numerous swipes are returned to students' accounts because the Soup Bowl only uses a certain number of donations. He said he wants to expand the program to go beyond just Thanksgiving meals or to reach out to another food bank, so these students' generosity can still be put to use. 

The West Alabama Food Bank provides food to people in need in nine counties, said Greg Parker, associate director of the food bank. Parker said it is huge for the food bank to be able to partner with the University.

“It helps us not only to get our name out there, but to further our cause as well,” he said.

Faust said the program gives students at the University an opportunity to provide food to the West Alabama community. They anticipate thousands, if not tens of thousands, of pounds of food be donated in the program’s first calendar year.

“Second Helping truly brings the community and the campus together,” Faust said.

Students can get involved with the delivery of the meals to the Soup Bowl to see the rewards of their donated meals by emailing swipeawayhungerUA@gmail.com.

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