3 min read
Group of people stand in front of donations

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. — Mobile County SNAP-Ed Educator Antionette Hamilton wanted to make an impact for individuals and families struggling during the holiday but wasn’t sure where to start. With a little bit of creativity and help from a well-known partner, she was part of a team that helped to provide more than 3,000 meals to individuals in Mobile County this past November.

The Feeding Families for Fall Food Drive ran from Oct. 12 to Nov. 19. It collected more than 400 pounds of food and more than $500 in monetary donations to help hungry individuals and families.

How It Happened

The seed was planted for the Feeding Families for Fall Food Drive just after the holidays in January. After recognizing the need in her community, Hamilton partnered with Mobile County Regional Extension Agent Jack LeCroy to do something meaningful in Mobile County.

After settling on the food drive, the pair connected with Feeding the Gulf Coast—a large food bank serving 24 counties throughout south Alabama, south Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle.

“We wanted to feed people in our community but didn’t know where to start or who were the people most in need,” Hamilton said. “Feeding the Gulf Coast was instrumental in making this drive successful because they knew targeted areas and numbers where our donations could have the biggest impact.”

Hamilton said Feeding the Gulf Coast helped simplify the process by providing two large barrels to accept donations, which could hold about 200 pounds of food each. She said they hoped to collect about 300 pounds of food. Once the drive was over, they could take the barrels back to the food banks for distribution to those in need.

Community Effort 

Hamilton and LeCroy had the desire to help and the support of a large food bank behind them, but it was important to figure out how to get the word out to the community.

Their first step was to create a flyer to promote the drive. This flyer went out over several Alabama Extension social media platforms and was posted on bulletin boards throughout the community.

Hamilton also used partnerships she has developed as a SNAP-Ed educator in Mobile County to promote the drive and ask those partners to collect donations themselves. The Mobile County Extension office also got into the giving spirit by hosting a raffle event where items were given away, but employees had to donate food items to receive tickets.

In addition to donating food items, Hamilton worked with the Feeding the Gulf Coast food bank to develop a link on the Alabama Extension website where people could give monetary donations. Also, a short-code text was sent out to those supporting the food bank for a link to donate.

In the end, Hamilton said they collected 421 pounds of food and $512.80 in monetary donations. She said that equated to about 3,000 meals to families and individuals in Mobile County.

“There are a lot of people that really need help, and with the COVID-19 pandemic and even before that, people are still struggling and many are still in need of assistance,” Hamilton said. “There are many people out there who are working full-time jobs and still struggling due to rising costs.”

Annual Event

Hamilton said they plan to make this drive an annual event. Since they exceed their goal of 300 pounds of food during this drive, they plan to increase that goal even further next year.

“We know what we are doing now, and we believe we can help even more people,” she said.

Another food drive in the spring may also be in the mix for the Mobile County Extension office. Hamilton said holidays are a time when people think about those who are struggling, but hunger is always a need.

“Hunger doesn’t go away when the holidays do,” Hamilton said.

More Information

To contact Hamilton, SNAP-Ed educator in Mobile County, call (251) 574-8445 or email her at ath0044@aces.edu.

To find more success stories about SNAP-Ed educators, visit LiveWellAlabama.com.

Did you find this helpful?