Cross-campus Auburn partnership to support Auburn Caregivers
The Caregivers Initiative in partnership with Auburn Cares, Bundles of Hope and Auburn College of Nursing are addressing material needs of caregivers at Auburn by supplying diapers, formula and wipes to the Auburn community through Auburn Cares.
One in three moms don’t have enough diapers for their baby (nationaldiaperbanknetwork.org). Many states like Alabama don’t allow individuals to purchase diapers or period products through Medicaid. WIC and SNAP also do not cover these items. These already expensive items often have an additive tax, commonly called the Pink Tax. For many students, such as international students or students caring for dependents, there are additive barriers to affording necessary products, like hygiene items.
Auburn Cares supports material insecurity, such as food insecurity, through the Campus Food Pantry. Another material need driven by economic insecurity, shame, stigma and other sociodemographic or interpersonal factors is a lack of access to products like diapers, wipes and baby formula. Auburn alumna Lindsay Gray is the executive director of Bundles of Hope Diaper Bank. Their mission is to meet the basic, essential, monthly needs of Alabama families by supplying diapers, wipes, and more to families in a crisis or facing economic insecurity.
The Caregivers Initiative members, co-led by Auburn alumna Regan Moss as well as two staff, Jaime Miller and Alicia Mohundro, observed the need to support the relational and familial needs of Auburn students and employees. Having identified immediate need for both hygiene items and food for Auburn community members and their families, the Caregiver Initiative members connected with Sarah Grace Kaschak of Auburn Cares and Lindsay Gray of Bundles of Hope to address caregivers’ material needs. Bundles had the diapers and Auburn had the need but there was one significant barrier to a solution: the diaper bank in Birmingham, AL, is 2 hours away from the Campus Food Pantry. Undeterred, one faculty member and one staff member in the College of Nursing, Assistant Clinical Professor Rachael Sweeney and Graduate Academic Programs Administrator Jennifer Edwards got involved and have addressed the barrier to access by volunteering to make the trip throughout the upcoming semesters.
As a result of this work-and starting this summer-students and employees alike can now access diapers and wipes in the Campus Food Pantry.
Gray shared how the work of Bundles of Hope can improve familial wellbeing, psychological health and financial stability in Alabama by supporting these basic material needs. She shared that, for example, families are able to pay for utilities when these necessary products are accounted for in their lives.
Sweeny echoed these sentiments by sharing how expensive childcare and material products are in Alabama. Though the need at Auburn is not exactly known, it is pervasive and impacts families’ wellbeing. Through this collaborative initiative, Auburn families and caregivers are better supported and recognized as welcomed assets to the Auburn community.
The Caregiver Initiative is presently working to better understand and support the experiences of AU students who provide care to others while being enrolled in classes. The group maintains a comprehensive and dynamic definition of student-caregiving to include those who provide care to others including, but not limited to children, aging parents and elderly relatives, and those who are informally connected to them (including roommates, friends). The group has engaged in campus benchmarking to understand the resources presently available to student-caregivers. In summer 2023, the group will expand to include a team of student researchers with the primary goal of informing institutional practice, support programs, and policies while also contributing to research in the field related to caregiving while in college.
To support PERIOD. @ Auburn, AL, in supplying period products to the Campus Food Pantry, donate at aub.ie/give2period. To help supply baby formula and hygiene items to Campus Food Pantry, donate aub.ie/diaperdrive.
The Caregivers Initiative, founded and co-led by Regan Moss, Jaime Miller and Alicia Mohundro, is a research, programming and advocacy group working to understand and support caregivers’ experiences at Auburn University. A caregiver is broadly defined as someone who provides emotional, financial and/or medical support to a sibling, child, parent or other formal or informal dependent. The group was awarded a Bright Ideas Seed Grant via the Office of Academic Insight as part of the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan with a goal of identifying and addressing barriers to student achievement at Auburn. To support the work of the Caregivers Initiative, contact Regan Moss, Jaime Miller or Alicia Mohundro.
Submitted by: Regan Moss