Auburn Sustenance Project to help feed hundreds of school children this holiday season

Graham Brooks | Communications Editor

What began as a small project within the College of Human Sciences a year ago has grown into an official Auburn University student organization called the Auburn Sustenance Project that will continue to fight food insecurity this holiday season.

The holidays can be a special time for family and friends to gather and share a meal together but for many, the holiday season can be a stark reminder that food insecurity is a real problem that exists right here in the Auburn/Opelika area.

To help combat this problem, the Auburn Sustenance Project student organization will help pack thousands of food bags for children within Auburn City Schools this holiday season as the organization continues to grow and make a huge impact in fighting food insecurity.

Beginning in Caroline Payne-Purvis’ Human Development and Family Science class before last Thanksgiving, the Auburn Sustenance Project has grown from a one-time service project to a full-time organization with approximately 83 members.

Emma Chumley, a sophomore in pre-nursing who now serves as president of the Auburn Sustenance Project, helped lead the Thanksgiving project last year to feed two families and after seeing its success, she continued taking food donations prior to the spring break holiday and summer break. “One of the biggest ways we’ve grown is through O-days (Organizations Days) on the concourse and we had lots of students come up and reach out,” Chumley said. “Then just word of mouth through classes. I used to be kind of shy about talking to people I don’t know but now I tell everyone in all my classes. Like an example would be telling people to come to our tailgate and visiting our Instagram and things like that and it’s just grown from there.”

Using the help of local businesses, monetary donations, student donations, an Amazon wish list, a tailgate and more, the number of meals provided for elementary and middle school students within Auburn City Schools has been astounding.

During spring break, the Auburn Sustenance Project provided breakfast, lunch, and snacks to 23 families for five days amounting to 115 breakfasts, 115 lunches and 230 snacks.

During the summer, the project provided breakfast, lunch, and snacks for 181 children for five days a week for the entire summer. This amounted to 10,860 breakfasts, 10,860 lunches and 21,720 snacks totaling 43,440 meals and snacks alone. Additionally, the Auburn Sustenance Project has been able to provide snacks to all nine elementary schools within Auburn City Schools every month for the students who are unable to bring their own snacks.

For the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, there are no plans to slow down according to Chumley as the goal is to pack food bags with breakfast, lunch and snacks for 450 children to have over Thanksgiving break alone.

“We started with a couple people and honestly we never thought it would be this big of an organization,” Chumley said. “We thought it might be a one-time service project but I’m really happy that it is a student organization now. This is something we hope that even after we graduate, new students keep this going and pass this on.”

For more information on the Auburn Sustenance Project, visit For more information on Human Development and Family Science in the College of Human Sciences, visit their website.