February.18.UABGardens3.CMYKPhoto by Drew Crenshaw, photo editor

 

UAB Gardens Plants Seeds of Philanthropy

 

Emma Owen
Blazer News Editor
emmaoewn@uab.edu
Emma Owen

 

Thirty percent of college studentshave trouble attaining three meals a day, according to College and University Food Bank Alliance (CUFA). For students who struggle with food insecurity at UAB, fresh produce is now an option through a partnership of UAB Gardens and Blazer Kitchen.

 

Recently, UAB Gardens has partnered with the Blazer Kitchen to bring fresh produce to students, faculty and UAB Clinic patients who battle food insecurity.

 

Kaydian Jordan, Blazer Kitchen Coordinator, said the new partnership will enhance the way Blazer Kitchen recipients are assisted.

 

“There’s many benefits, the main one that’s going to impact us on day-to-day operations is that it’s fresh produce,” Jordan said. “We get a lot of produce through the food bank but most weeks, we’ll throw away two-thirds of the products. Having that fresh produce, it’s going to last longer and the (growers) get to grow what they want so we will have more control over the items we receive.”

 

Jordan said that along with healthier choices through UAB Gardens, Blazer Kitchen is looking forward to creating a healthy diet for recipients through another partnership.

 

“We’re working on a “Healthly Nudges” program with the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama, so they can be choosing healthier options,” Jordan said.

 

Mirandy McClellan, Americore Vista employee with Blazer Kitchen and the Benevolent Fund, said she hopes the partnership between the UAB Gardens and Blazer Kitchen will encourage more students to volunteer their time to help end food insecurity.

 

“I think this will bring more awareness for the Blazer Kitchen,” McClellan said. “You might have some students that have never heard of the Blazer Kitchen and they get the opportunity to actually come in and see it and see what’s happening and they know that they’re contributing and student involvement in general, just to know that they’re helping fellow students.”

 

McClellan said that along with students and faculty, patients in some UAB Clinics can benefit from the Blazer Kitchen.

 

“We provide food for ten health clinics as well,” McClellan said. “(Some) patients (have) specific requirements and a lot of those requirements are fresh produce and at this point in time, we are not able to offer that. Potentially, with the (partnership) we could let the (patients) come in and get produce.”

 

McClellan said before the partnership, produce would go bad quickly and would have to be thrown away. Now, McClellan said the partnership could mean longer lasting fruits and vegetables will be given out in Blazer Kitchen.

 

We have to limit the produce we haveto make sure people have food both Wednesday and Thursdays, so it lasts,” McClellan said. “So, it will just be a wider variety too.”

 

McClellan said that with the new partnership, not only will the quantity of produce be enhanced, but the variety will change as well, allowing for more options for students, faculty and patients to choose from.

 

“Two weeks ago, we got just tons and tons of mangos,” McClellan said. “That’s great, but not everyone wants a mango so this would be great too because it’s going to be more seasonal, we know exactly when it was harvested so it can be super fresh and the students and the employees at this location will get to get some of the fresh (produce).”

 

Ashley Poole, senior in social work and intern with blazer kitchen, said the partnership between Blazer Kitchen and UAB Gardens is something that can make a positive change in the way the kitchen is being run currently.

 

“I am very excited to see the produce come in, especially since we have to throw away a lot of produce,” Poole said. “It will be fresh and (give) healthier options to Blazer Kitchen”

 

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