More than 15 million children and youth under the age of 18 in the United States live in households unable to consistently access nutritious food necessary for healthy growth and development, according to Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization.
More that five million, or nearly one-third of these food insecure children, live in the 11 states that make up the SEC, including Alabama and Mississippi.
Auburn Athletics has teamed up with Auburn University’s Hunger Solutions Institute, the End Child Hunger in Alabama, or ECHA, campaign, and Governor Kay Ivey to address food insecurity which is often related to poor health, substandard educational performance, and inadequate job preparedness. “We have a choice to take action or let this unacceptable problem continue,” said Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs. “It is an uncomfortable truth that children in our state, our counties, and even our neighborhoods are hungry and may not know where there next meal is coming from,” added Ivey, spokesperson for ECHA. “As governor, I cannot sit back. It is time to take action.”
Since ECHA was launched out of the Hunger Solutions Institute in 2013, its statewide task force has been involved in improving access to healthy foods for children through USDA summer and after-school feeding programs, breakfast in classroom efforts, and backpack initiatives that discretely send food home on the weekends for food insecure children.
In fact, each Thursday afternoon on the Auburn campus, student-athletes, athletics staff, and others from the campus and community pack food sacks to be distributed to 1,400 school children in Lee County in support of the Jason Dufner Foundation.
Beginning October 1, Auburn will join with its in-state rival for a common cause –to win the “war on hunger’ affecting more than 300,000 of Alabama’s children. The Beat Bama/Beat Auburn Food Drive us an annual competition between Auburn and he University of Alabama. It is the largest food drive of the year for the food banks of both east and west Alabama, helping provide food assistance for hundreds of families who struggle to find where they will get their next meal.
What a tribute it would be if all universities in the SEC would take up the challenge of ending child hunger throughout the 11-state region.