How We Got Started
The Alabama Food Bank Association (ALFBA) was founded in 2010 and works to end hunger by assisting the food bank network in obtaining more food and funds, fostering public awareness of the food banks’ mission, and creating partnerships to help alleviate hunger in Alabama.
ALFBA plays an integral role in the fight to end hunger in Alabama. ALFBA serves as a founding member of Gov. Kay Ivey’s End Child Hunger in Alabama Taskforce, we are a proud member of the Feeding America Network, and our organization founded the first summer meals program in Florence, Auburn, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. During our three years as a summer meals sponsor, we have provided more than 125,000 meals to over 3,000 children.
We work to help align efforts of Alabama’s eight food banks to ensure food and funds are serving needs throughout our great state. Our work throughout the state to address policy and programs related to hunger has been recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), and Feeding America. Our office has provided policy briefings to local, state, and federal elected officials on the nature of food insecurity in Alabama.
In 2014, ALFBA began working with the USDA Southeastern Regional Office on addressing Alabama’s designation as a “target state” for summer meals- meaning our state had a large percentage of children on free and reduced lunch who did not have access to meals due to schools being closed in the summer and lack of summer meals sites. ALFBA opened four sites in Florence, Alabama during summer 2014. During summer 2017, our reach will have expanded to include 30 sites in Florence, Huntsville, and Birmingham. In 2016 Alabama was selected as one of three states by the National League of Cities to receive special funding for cities to expand their summer and after school feeding programs. ALFBA was selected to serve as the anti-hunger organization to lead this effort. Over $300,000 was brought into the state from ALFBA’s partnership with the National League of Cities to expand this work in the following Alabama cities: Alabaster, Anniston, Brewton, Clanton, Florence, Huntsville, Hobson City, Mobile, Prattville, Russellville, and Tuskegee.
The Alabama Food Bank Association operates three programs in conjunction with an array of policy initiatives.Through our advocate training program, we educate food bank agencies, elected officials and community partners on the nature of food insecurity in Alabama. Far too many Alabamians believe that hunger is a problem mainly faced by third-world countries; yet one in four children and one in six adults in our state face food insecurity, while a quarter of the state lives in a food desert. The challenges that face our food banks are immense; from connecting the most rural parts of our state with food to serving inner-city blighted neighborhoods, we reach every corner of our state on our mission to end hunger in Alabama. Educating others on the reality of hunger in Alabama is an important facet of our work in building awareness and understanding of our neighbors silent struggles and of the work of our food bank network. Our outreach and education program also includes the Alabama Legal Food Frenzy, where we work with the Alabama Bar Association to raise awareness and funds to support the work of our four Feeding America food banks and four Feeding America Partner Distribution Organizations.
Our Summer Meals Program provides front-line service to kids and teens who are food insecure. The program offers meals to low income students under the age of 18 who typically rely on school meals. Our program provides nutritious meals that includes produce sourced from local growers. We partner with over 30 community organizations, such as YMCA’s and Boys and Girls Clubs, to provide meals throughout the summer months. We believe these meals are an integral solution to fighting hunger and creating a healthier generation of future leaders. Currently, Alabama is ranked #2 in the nation for childhood diabetes and obesity. Providing access to healthy meals is our organization’s way of helping combat these preventable childhood diseases that are prominent among low income children.
End Child Hunger in Alabama
ALFBA is a founding member of our state’s largest anti-hunger coalition – the End Child Hunger in Alabama Taskforce (ECHA), led by Auburn University and chaired by Governor Kay Ivey. ALFBA will continue to build on the framework and partnerships currently being established to help provide education, advocacy, services and programs throughout Alabama. The relationship that ALFBA has established through the ECHA Task Force, as well as through its programmatic work, has allowed us to broaden our relationship and assistance into breakfast in the classroom and community eligibility for schools.
Hunger Free Schools Committee
ALFBA leads the Alabama Hunger Free Schools Committee of ECHA to continue to provide support (and pressure) to school districts that had not yet adopted Breakfast in the Classroom and Community Eligibility. Based on a model used in other states, ALFBA invited Alabama Appleseed, Alabama ARISE, and the Alabama Dairy Council to put together a newsletter celebrating schools and districts that have adopted these programs, while encouraging others that might be eligible. The committee anticipates publishing its first newsletter in early 2018.
ALFBA also created and leads the Alabama SNAP Workgroup. Our group first met in 2016, and has continued to meet on a quarterly basis. Our members include the state SNAP director with the Department of Human Resources (DHR), Peggy Fouts from the regional FNS/USDA office, several DHR staff, as well as community partners Alabama ARISE, Alabama Legal Services, Alabama Appleseed, E.A.T. South, and Feeding the Gulf Coast. The Workgroup has already been able to help minimize the impact on ABAWDS, begin to re-write documents such as the SNAP application to make it easier for clients to apply, and help communicate changes in the program through our network of providers. The Workgroup has also strengthened our positive relationship with the SNAP administrators, and created even more communications among our group.
ALFBA is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, and we partner with a network of 200 food banks across the country. Together our network feeds 46 million people at risk of hunger, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors.