Rush at food bank prompts food drive

Ashanka Kumari

The University of Alabama’s Leadership UA organization is sponsoring an on-campus food drive in partnership with the West Alabama Food Bank from now until April 20.

All nonperishable foods will be accepted and can be dropped off in designated containers at Bidgood Hall, ten Hoor Hall, Morgan Hall, Shelby Hall and the Office of Judicial Affairs in the Ferguson Center, said Cole Napoleon, Leadership UA philanthropy chairman.

“The overall goal is to provide students with an easy way to help the underprivileged in our Tuscaloosa community,” Napoleon said. “Leadership UA has teamed up with the Judicial Affairs Office to collect as much food as possible, and sorority members are eligible to receive Panhellenic points for donating.”

Nick Lambert, graduate assistant for the dean of students, said the food bank is overcrowded during the summer months because low-income families with children who qualify for free or reduced meals are out of school.

“More meals have to be provided by the parents of these children, many of whom are working on a very tight budget,” Lambert said. “The West Alabama Food Bank can help alleviate some of these costs by providing food, and with this drive, we are trying to make sure the food bank has sufficient food for these families.”

In 2011, 23.5 percent of Alabamians reported, on average, that they could not afford enough food during the year, with many counties in west Alabama experiencing higher percentages, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 statistics.

“Families who were once considered middle class are now falling down the socioeconomic ladder because of a depleted economy and increasing gas and food prices,” Lambert said. “This is causing an unexpected rush at the West Alabama Food Bank, and we want to help ensure that they have enough food to provide to everyone in need.”

Rachel Crutchfield, a sophomore majoring in telecommunication and film who works at the Community Service Center, said the drive looks to raise awareness to those not fortunate enough to have a hot meal three times a day and allow students and faculty an opportunity to give to these families.

“We hope to raise more than enough cans of food to serve four families for a month,” Crutchfield said. “The West Alabama Food Bank is always accepting donations; there does not need to be a canned food drive — anyone can donate canned foods whenever they please.”

The goal of Leadership UA is to develop students into future leaders on this campus, Lambert said.

“Most people associate leadership with good public speaking skills or the ability to step up in a foreign situation. However, being a good leader is more than that, and helping people in need is a great example of something a leader should be naturally inclined to do,” Lambert said. “At the end of this drive, the students of Leadership UA will have hopefully developed an inherent need to help others in their time of need.”

Organizations with large donations are encouraged to contact Cole Napoleon at 407-754-4478, Nick Lambert at ntlambert@crimson.ua.edu or Rachel Crutchfield at rjcrutchfield@crimson.ua.edu to arrange a drop-off.