September 29, 2015

Ending student hunger, one meal at a time

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University of Alabama at Birmingham students now have the opportunity to help peers in need. Student organization Donor to Diner is working with UAB administration, campus restaurants and the Office of Student Advocacy, Rights and Conduct to initiate a program that will allow meal donations to be converted to vouchers that UAB case managers can distribute to students who do not have access to food on a regular basis.

“There are a lot of students who work just to put food on their table,” said program organizer Supraja Sridhar.

Sridhar wanted to help. After meeting with school administrators, she started working on a plan to provide students with financial resources so that they would not have to live hungry.

Donor to Diner is a service-oriented organization that seeks to provide easy access to food and other commodities to economically disadvantaged students.

Students, faculty and staff can donate one meal from their meal plan to this effort. For those who do not have a meal plan but would like to contribute, a $10 donation using dining dollars, Blazer Bucks or cash will also provide a meal voucher for a student in need. 

This program is intended to supplement the aid offered by case managers and the UAB Student Advocacy, Rights and Conduct food pantry, which has served 359 students since its establishment two years ago.

Emily Feinstein, director of Student Advocacy, Rights and Conduct, says this initiative is a way to help alleviate the effects of hunger and other human needs so students can pursue a quality education.

“Together, we can create a dynamic learning environment in which our UAB community can learn how to meet the current pressing societal challenges facing college students, specifically with food insecurity,” Feinstein said.

Donor to Diner also partners with UAB Campus Dining, which strives to serve its communities in various ways.

“One of our core values is helping the communities in which we serve,” said Resident District Manager of UAB Campus Restaurants Rich Yokeley. “We are excited to have this opportunity to work with Donor to Diner and provide students the ability to give back and support their peers.”

Sridhar says the majority of donations come from students, and she is not surprised that UAB students are willing to help.

“A lot of us do have a meal we can spare,” she said. “It may be just a meal to you or me, but one person can make a difference and one meal can make a difference.”