AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Assembly lines of dozens of Auburn University athletes and volunteers lined tables Thursday, November 20, filling bags of food for children in need in Lee County.
“These backpacks go out to children in need on Friday afternoons, except for holidays, which will probably be Tuesday afternoon next week, so that they have some extra food on the weekends when perhaps they wouldn't be getting as much when they're in school with the free lunch a free breakfast program," explains Harriet Giles of AU's Hunger Solutions Institute.
It's a part of the Blessings in a Backpack program started by, pro golfer and AU alum, Jason Dufner and his wife Amanda.
The program provides elementary school children who are on the federal "Free and Reduced Price Meal Program" with a backpack of food to take home for 38 weekends during the school year.
"Jason and his wife Amanda do a fantastic job with their initiative and foundation. Our team obviously looks up to him. Jason is our volunteer coach and we're happy to be here, happy to help," says AU Men's Head Golf Coach, Nick Clinard.
Alabama has a 27 percent food insecurity rate among the child population.
The national average is 20 percent or every one in five children are hungry.
"Whatever that average is, it's much too high because if there is one child that's food insecure that is one too many," explains Giles.
Each week the Dufner foundation packs nearly 800 backpacks for children in need.
Thursday they doubled that number with the Thanksgiving Holiday in mind.
"We try to help him out which sounds weird because (Dufner) probably doesn't need much help, but he is a role model so we try to do what we can to help him out," says Daniel Stringfellow of the AU Men's Golf Team.
"We have a chance to make a difference in the state of Alabama and spread the world,” says Clinard, “its privilege and a joy to help."