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AmeriCorps announces food security initiative grant for UAB

Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 10:50 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The AmeriCorps VISTA program at UAB has signed on to be part of a new initiative to address food security in our state committing a large portion of its volunteers to the cause.

AmeriCorps has awarded more than $2 million in grants to organizations addressing the impact of hunger in the time of COVID-19.

UAB Volunteers In Service To America, or VISTA, received a portion of that grant to expand into the area of food security in Alabama.

UAB is excited to learn AmeriCorps is expanding its volunteer and national service reach to include food security, an issue many Alabamians are facing since the onset of the pandemic.

UAB said with this grant, 30% of its VISTA can commit to this work, which is especially important now to meet families’ basic needs.

“If people do not have an adequate supply of food, we can’t expect much else. We’ve seen it with our summer food programs, the importance of that. We’ve seen it in school feeding, and we know, especially due to COVID, that food insecurity has increased and that it’s really vital that we not only get adequate amounts of food, but that we also get healthy food to families,” said UAB’s Director of the Statewide VISTA program, Amy Hutson Chathman.

UAB has a number of programs designed to serve food to those in need including its Blazer Kitchen and partnerships with the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama.

“We do really great work here at the food bank and we were able to provide 18 million pounds of food last year into the community, which is about 16 million meals,” said Director of Development for the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama.

She said the food insecurity rate in central Alabama was at an all-time low prior to the pandemic, but now that rate has increased by about 30%.

She said to meet today’s needs, the Food Bank would need to almost triple the number of meals it serves, which is why having volunteers is so important.

“We’re thrilled that UAB has gotten some additional ones for the coming year and we’re hoping to have a few over the summer, and some that will then do the full year with us. sSo we’re very grateful for that program and additional boots on the ground to help us feed people in need,” Williams said.

The Community Food Bank of Central Alabama also needs money and donations to meet the needs of the community.

If you’d like to help, visit feedingal.org.

“Our program at UAB has signed on to be part of the new initiative to address food security in the state.”

The announcement comes during Americorps week, March 13-19, a celebration of the millions of Americans who have chosen to serve their country through Americorps and encourage more Americans to follow in their footsteps of service.

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