Auburn students raise funds to help Community Market get larger cooler

Published: August 27, 2015
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The Community Market of the Food Bank of East Alabama has a new refrigerator to better serve the area's hungry families thanks to the cooperation of a number of Auburn University students.

Daniel Cason and Lauren Chastain got involved when Auburn's student-led Campus Kitchens Project wanted to deliver meals to the Community Market, but the market's refrigerators didn't have enough space to hold the meals.

Campus Kitchens fights hunger on campus and within the Auburn community by redistributing food that would otherwise be wasted. As an outreach program of the food bank, the Community Market provides fresh produce, perishable food and shelf-stable food items in a grocery store atmosphere. Martha Henk, executive director of the food bank, said it serves an average of 910 different households each month.

When the Committee of 19 at Auburn volunteered at the market, its members also recognized the need for more food storage space. Campus Kitchens and the Committee of 19 partnered to raise funds to purchase an additional refrigerator for the market. Committee of 19 President Rachael Gamlin, Cason and Chastain were instrumental in the fundraising process.

Henk said the food bank's board of directors agreed to match the student-raised funds, resulting in the purchase of a new three-door cooler. Students collected their half – $1,500 – with a $1,000 donation from the Waters Foundation and $500 from other sources, including the sale of student-made headbands.

"Often the very first items to drop out of the shopping baskets of the economically challenged are fresh fruits and vegetables since it is expensive and can go bad before it's eaten," said Henk. "This cooler is having a big impact on our ability to provide healthy produce and perishable food to these folks."

The Community Market, a United Way agency, has received an abundance of produce from local gardeners this summer, according to Henk. In July alone she said the market received 1,487 pounds of produce from home gardens, as well as Opelika Grows and the Auburn University Community Garden.

With produce from the Food Bank as well, the market distributed more than 75,000 pounds of produce to people in need in the first six months of this year.

"This is a great example of various organizations working together to help the community," said Henk. "The ones who are benefiting from this project are the families served by the Community Market."