The Dufners chose hunger as one of their foundation’s major causes and discovered Blessings in a Backpack, a national program that targets childhood hunger.
“Amanda is involved in the Tour Wives Association on the PGA Tour,” said Dufner. “One of the programs they work with a good deal around the different cities is the Blessings in a Backpack organization. Amanda felt it would be a great fit for the foundation we started in 2010.”
The couple pledged three years of funding to offer the program at Yarbrough Elementary School in Auburn and Carver Primary School in Opelika. Each week throughout the school year, children who otherwise may not have food to eat over the weekend are sent home with a bag of food on Friday afternoons. Teachers discreetly place the food bags into pre-selected students’ backpacks.
“The thing that’s really great about it is that you get to work with kids. With our foundation, we want to focus more on kids and their needs, specifically in Lee County, because it’s where we live,” Dufner said. “We have two schools up and going now in Lee County and are looking forward to adding many of the schools in the area. I’d love to see all the elementary schools here in Lee County be taken care of, all the kids here be taken care of, and then maybe expand to some of the other counties around us and get the program as big as we can here in East Alabama.”
In order to implement the program in Auburn, volunteers were needed to pack the 274 bags of food at the Auburn Walmart, the local project grocery partner, and deliver them to the schools on Thursday afternoons. That’s where Auburn University’s chapter of the national organization Campus Kitchens and University Outreach’s Office of Public Service came into the picture.
“I don’t think people realize that right here in Lee County, beyond our little section of Auburn University, there are people who really need help,” said Campus Kitchen at Auburn University president Emily Scammell. “Having Auburn students connect with the community in that way is really awesome.”
Campus Kitchen at Auburn University, a two-year old campus organization, is a hunger-fighting initiative led by students. Through a partnership with Chartwells and Sodexho, the organization repurposes food from campus dining facilities that would otherwise be thrown away into new meals which are then served to the hungry in the Auburn-Opelika community. Each week, they serve about 225 meals at locations throughout Lee County.
Scammell said the group was thrilled to be asked to assist with the Blessings in a Backpack project because it is another way to actively do good in the community.
“We want to raise awareness about hunger in the community, but also show that Auburn is very proactive in fighting hunger,” she said. “Our main goal is to get students involved in doing something good for their community – showing leadership and taking initiative.”
“Blessings is thrilled to be expanding our program into Auburn and Opelika and to be furthering our relationship with the PGA Players and PGA Tour Wives Association,” said Beth Bush, director, athletic partnerships for Blessings in a Backpack. “We are excited to have the Dufners as well as Auburn University join us in the battle against childhood hunger.”
To learn more about Blessings in a Backpack and Campus Kitchen at Auburn University or to get involved, find them on Facebook at “The Campus Kitchen at Auburn University,” go to www.auburn.edu/auinvolve or contact Jennifer Commander in University Outreach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A video segment and photographs are available on the Auburn University Office of Communications and Marketing website.
(Written by Carol Nelson)