AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Pro golfer Jason Dufner and his wife, Amanda, have joined Alabama Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey in a statewide initiative convened through Auburn University’s Hunger Solutions Institute to address child hunger and food insecurity in Alabama.
On Friday, the trio visited the summer feeding program at Greater Peace Baptist Church in Opelika. Since 2003, the Greater Peace Community Development Corporation has provided meals to children from low- and moderate-income families through the USDA Child Nutrition Programs.
In June, the program began preparing breakfast and lunch for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Lee County, Greater Peace Summer Educational Enrichment Preparation Program and Opelika Housing Authority Summer Program.
By the end of the summer, Greater Peace will have served more than 500 meals to children 18 or under throughout Auburn and Opelika.
Ivey made the regional stop as spokesperson for End Child Hunger in Alabama, the first outreach initiative of the Hunger Solutions Institute at Auburn University. She has visited similar food sites across Alabama since Auburn University and state leaders launched the End Child Hunger in Alabama campaign in April.
The goal of the initiative is to move Alabama from the bottom third into the top 25 percent of states with the highest degree of child food security by 2020.
Jason Dufner, an Auburn alumnus, and his wife, Amanda, are passionate about feeding children. The Jason Dufner Charitable Foundation has partnered with Auburn University to feed hungry children in Lee County through Blessings in a Backpack, a national program that targets childhood hunger.
The couple has 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. Meals are prepared by University Outreach’s Office of Public Service and the Campus Kitchen at Auburn University.
“The idea of children going hungry in our own backyard is unacceptable to Jason and me, just as it is to Lt. Gov. Ivey, the people of the Auburn community and Lee County,” said Amanda Dufner. “Through the Hunger Solutions Institute, we are working together to help address this problem for our children and give them the best chance to succeed in both the classroom and their physical activities with proper nourishment.”
“I appreciate Jason and Amanda joining me in this effort to bring awareness to child hunger,” added Ivey. “Most people do not realize that children in our own communities go hungry, so anything we can do to highlight the issue helps in the overall fight to end child hunger.”
The Hunger Solutions Institute was established in 2012 as a catalyst for discovering, evaluating and disseminating knowledge in the fight against hunger. According to Harriet Giles, managing director of the institute, “It seemed only fitting that the first major outreach initiative of the institute should focus on our home state of Alabama and should target the most vulnerable among us – our children. We are working with key state leaders from both the public and private sectors to develop and share best practices that will improve the food assistance safety net for children; prevent childhood obesity; cultivate a strong regional food system; increase families’ economic stability; and build the public will to make ending child hunger a priority among all stakeholder groups.”