UAB fundraiser aims to help the hungry as food insecurity rises during COVID-19 pandemic

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Food insecurity is a problem for more than one-third of UAB students, and the number is growing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why an annual fundraiser at the school may be more important than ever.

Blazers Against Hunger, a one-day, online fundraiser, takes place tomorrow, raising money for the Blazer Kitchen. It’s UAB’s campus food bank, one of the programs offered through the UAB Benevolent Fund. The annual fundraiser generates 75% of the kitchen’s annual operating budget.

“Blazer Kitchen serves UAB students, employees and patients that may not know where their next meal is coming from, may be purchasing food that is not as nutritious because they don’t have the funds to purchase a nutritious diet,” said Lisa Higginbotham, manager of the UAB Benevolent Fund.

According to a 2018 survey by UAB’s School of Public Health, about 36% of UAB students identify as food insecure. And issues with food can lead to other problems.

“Students who do struggle with food insecurity tend to have lower grades and tend to be sick more so they miss class more,” Higginbotham said.

And more of them are in need than usual because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Higginbotham said the Blazer Kitchen has seen a 100% increase in the number of people relying on the kitchen this year.

“I think that’s because our students rely on family for monetary support, for food, and their families are struggling because of COVID-19,” she said. “I think across our country, COVID-19 has really amplified the effects of food insecurity and hunger on those who were struggling already.”

The Blazer Kitchen also serves UAB employees and patients. The fundraiser is Thursday. You can find more information about donating here.


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