Auburn University receives grant from ECMC Foundation to increase college food security

Charlotte Tuggle | Communications Editor

Auburn University’s Hunger Solutions Institute recently received a grant totaling more than $520,000 from the ECMC Foundation in support of the Alabama Campus Coalition for Basic Needs.

The goal of the new partnership between Auburn and the ECMC Foundation is to help students succeed in higher education by supporting their basic nutritional needs.

The grant represents the first philanthropic investment at Auburn from the foundation, which works to improve education outcomes for students from underserved populations. Through this grant, the Los Angeles-based affiliate of the nonprofit ECMC Group will fund a two-year pilot of Auburn’s Hunger Solutions Institute’s Campus Food Security Initiative.

“We are thrilled to partner with ECMC Foundation,” said Jane DiFolco Parker, vice president for development and president of the Auburn University Foundation. “Like Auburn, the foundation recognizes the importance of addressing food insecurity, especially when it affects students. Their commitment to philanthropy will have a significant impact on people throughout Alabama and the nation.”

Earlier this year, the Hunger Solutions Institute’s first statewide initiative, End Child Hunger in Alabama, established the Alabama Campus Coalition for Basic Needs, facilitated by Auburn Associate Professor of Nutrition Onikia Brown, and comprised of 10 four-year universities in Alabama.

Members of the coalition include Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, Auburn, Jacksonville State University, Troy University, Tuskegee University, University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of North Alabama and University of South Alabama.

“The Alabama Campus Coalition for Basic Needs takes the mission to achieve hunger-free campuses to a statewide level. Across Alabama, universities are realizing and supporting initiatives to ensure no student goes hungry,” said Susan Hubbard, executive director of the Hunger Solutions Institute and dean of the College of Human Sciences. “With this grant, the coalition will be able to establish a zero-hunger plan that can be implemented across the country.”

The Alabama Campus Coalition for Basic Needs unifies these institutions to implement a far-reaching, systematic framework to improve access for all students to sufficient amounts of affordable, nutritious food. Each member institution engaged campus stakeholders to form a campus coalition during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Through each campus coalition, the Campus Food Security Initiative will assess the scope of food insecurity and available resources on each campus. This information will guide the development of university-specific action plans, including direct student support. Each member institution will receive $25,000 to support implementation of its action plan.

In addition, researchers funded by the grant will assist universities in evaluating their activities based on changes in food insecurity prevalence, campus resources and student outcomes. Finally, the initiative will share information on best practices identified as a result of this framework.

Data collected by the initiative will shape the best practices that universities and colleges across the state and nation will implement in the pursuit of zero-hunger campuses.

For more information about the Alabama Campus Coalition for Basic Needs, contact Alicia Powers, managing director of the Auburn University Hunger Solutions Institute, at