Before the coronavirus pandemic spread to America, 20-year-old University of Alabama sophomore Abigail Gunter was volunteering by tutoring children in the Tuscaloosa City Schools and serving as vice president of logistics for Beat Auburn Beat Hunger.
And now with the virus being widespread, how she’s volunteering has changed, but her heart to help has not.
For the past two weeks, Gunter has served free meals to about 420 Tuscaloosa City Schools students a week.
Every Monday, she and other volunteers with AmeriCorps pass out five free breakfast meals and five free lunch meals to each student who comes to the city school distribution sites. The meals are meant to provide students with enough food for two meals a day throughout the week.
The meals were given out daily, but that was scaled back to once a week to reduce contact due to the virus.
“I feel like I’m just doing my part,” Gunter said. “Everything’s super organized and all of the parents are very understanding. If parents can’t come during the pickup times because they’re working, we’ll set it up to where the meals can be delivered like with their neighbors bringing them to them.”
Gunter, who is majoring in public health and business management – specifically health care analytics – said helping feed the hungry in her college town of Tuscaloosa through Beat Auburn Beat Hunger and AmeriCorps has been an eye-opening experience.
“After doing Beat Auburn Beat Hunger and seeing the difference that it made in helping people, it made me want to help out as much as I can, especially in areas associated with my majors and that I want to do in the future.
“I get to see the difference that I make every day. I think the virus has brought this program and the need that people have out more in the light. The West Alabama Food Bank is taking donations and pickups so if people want to help, I recommend they go to them to do so.”
The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.