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Blazers Against HungerOn November 17, the UAB community will have the opportunity to help fight food insecurity on campus during Blazers Against Hunger. The annual crowdfunding campaign supports Blazer Kitchen, UAB’s on-campus food pantry that supports UAB employees, students and patients.

The need for support has never been greater, UAB Benevolent Fund manager Lisa Higginbotham said. In the fall of 2021, Blazer Kitchen saw an average of 250 students each month. This fall, the pantry has seen an average of 750 students each month.

“Inflation and rising food prices have put a lot of our students in difficult situations,” Higginbotham said, adding that an increased awareness about the existence of Blazer Kitchen has also contributed to the rise.

Blazer Kitchen is supported by the UAB Benevolent Fund and provides healthy food, resources and referrals to UAB community members and their families, while ensuring those who visit are treated with dignity, compassion and integrity. Members of the UAB community can shop at Blazer Kitchen just as they would at a grocery store but at no cost. Blazer Kitchen offers multiple locations around campus and has engaged over 2,500 student volunteers in the fight against hunger at UAB. Last fiscal year, Blazer Kitchen had nearly 10,000 visits from UAB employees, students and patients, totaling nearly 145,000 meals. The vast majority of shoppers were students.

According to the 2018 Food Access at UAB Survey, nearly half of UAB students said they did not have enough nutritious food to eat—a problem that can impact one’s physical, mental and social health. Blazers Against Hunger, now in its fifth year, seeks to change that statistic and see food insecurity on campus eliminated.

“When people don’t have access to healthy, nutritious food, they’re not able to succeed and reach their full potential, especially our students who are getting an education and working to support themselves while getting that education—and to add on top of that worrying about where their next meal is coming from,” Higginbotham said. “On-campus eateries sometimes close early or shut down before students can use their meal plans if they’re engaged in evening classes or extracurricular activities. They may not have healthy, nutritious food in their cupboard or their home or their fridge, so they can access Blazer Kitchen to keep a supply of healthy, nutritious foods for those days when they have extracurricular activities, which are a very important part of the college experience.”

UAB employees may face a financial hardship in their lives that prohibit them from getting access to high-quality food on a regular basis—so they too can take advantage of Blazer Kitchen. Patients at UAB get world class care here but may go home and not have access to nourishing food when they get there.

“We want our patients to have the absolute best possible outcome and making sure they have access to nutritious food is important,” Higginbotham said.

Higginbotham said Blazers Against Hunger provides about 75 percent of funding for the entire year for Blazer Kitchen, which allows the pantry to buy food at the low price of about 16 cents per pound through its partnership with the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama. At Blazer Kitchen, just $15 provides fresh food for 12 meals—and all in the UAB community are encouraged to donate to the cause.

“We encourage UAB supporters, family and friends to make a financial contribution,” Higginbotham said.

Visit uab.edu/blazersagainsthunger now through November 17 to donate and use the hashtag #BlazersAgainstHunger on social media. Everyone from UAB faculty, staff and students to alumni and friends are invited to participate.


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