Students will soon have a place to go for all things nutrition and food security on campus following the creation of a nutrition research center. It will take the place of AU Smokehouse and Fresh on the Plains on the first floor of Lupton Hall in the Quad.
The nutrition research center was first conceived by previous project coordinator Ada Ruth Huntley, senior in global studies and president of Auburn’s Student Government Association, in conjunction with Campus Dining as a means to raise awareness and provide aid for people struggling with food insecurity.
Alayna Priebe, junior in business analytics, is the current project coordinator of the planned nutrition research center and is working in conjunction with Glenn Loughridge, director of Campus Dining, on the project.
“It is a space to encapsulate all the things that are being done at Auburn in terms of food security and show that food insecurity is … something that students are going through on a day-to-day basis and make sure that these programs are readily accessible to them,” Priebe said.
Loughridge emphasized the need for a non-threatening environment that students can go to get advice or access to resources with no questions asked.
“One of the biggest barriers is that people do not ask for help when it comes to food,” Loughridge said. “If we can be a place that any student at any point would [come to], that is a win, because now there is no telling who is in there for what. You can be someone that is in a position with absolutely no food on their table that night … to a student with a more temporary situation.”
The current plan involves renovating the first floor of Lupton Hall into operational spaces for Campus Kitchens and Auburn Cares, two on-campus organizations that focus on food security.
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Campus Kitchens is an organization that focuses on reducing food waste on campus by packing unserved food from dining halls into nutritious meals to give to community organizations and students in need. It will be moving from Toomer Hall at the Hill to the area in Lupton occupied by Fresh from the Plains.
Auburn Cares, an organization currently located in the Melton Student Center that runs the Campus Food Pantry, will take the place of the AU Smokehouse. Loughridge emphasized the importance of the food pantry for at-risk groups including graduate students with families and international graduate students.
“One of the biggest parts about this redesign process is also making it as optimal for those services that are going to be involved,” Priebe said. “For Auburn Cares [and Campus Kitchens] it is about making sure from a long-term standpoint that it suits exactly what their needs are going to be.”
The services offered will range from providing food to educating students on food security and how it is an issue in the Auburn community. Loughridge says that food security is a more prevalent issue than many students realize and that even Auburn students can struggle to have the financial means to pay for food after the cost of college and emergency expenses.
The nutrition research center will coordinate with the Nutrition and Dietetics Academy, the Office of Health and Wellness as well as Counseling Services to provide students with knowledge that will prepare them to make healthy choices and give back to others that are in need.
Students can come for information on general nutrition, resources for those in need or for counseling on how to give back to the community through volunteering. Despite the nutritional guidance provided to students, Loughridge made the distinction that if students are looking for information specific to them, they should go to a registered dietician.
“It is designed to be a full-scale integration of education, application and service,” he said. “It is going to be planting a flag in the center of campus saying that we really care about food security and want our students to know where to locate food when they need it.”
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