The University of Alabama at Birmingham awarded an American Rescue Plan grant to serve food insecure populations.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism, announced a grant award to The University of Alabama at Birmingham as a part of the VISTA program’s food security initiative today at an event in Birmingham, Ala. Launched in 2020, the initiative is a comprehensive and collaborative approach to ending hunger. AmeriCorps has awarded over $2 million in grants to organizations addressing the impact of hunger in their state in the time of COVID-19.

At an AmeriCorps Week event on Monday, March 14, Michael D. Smith, AmeriCorps CEO joined Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin to celebrate AmeriCorps members in Alabama and announce the grant award.

“At the onset of the pandemic, hunger soared to the highest rates in modern history when schools were shuttered and older American meal programs put on hiatus,” said Smith. “The work of our food security initiative and The University of Alabama at Birmingham will turn back this tide and bring much-needed support to older adults and families.”

“This grant will be transformative as we continue the work to support individuals in need in the city of Birmingham,” said Mayor Woodfin. “Our partnership with AmeriCorps has been beneficial for our workforce and now with this impactful initiative. They continue to live up to their mission of service, which is in lockstep with our work and mission of always putting people first.”

“[UAB] has worked with AmeriCorps since 2014 to address social issues including: food security, environmental sustainability, educational equity, refugee resettlement, workforce development, rural health and wellness, racial reconciliation and opioid prevention and education,” said Amy Hutson Chatham, Ph.D., director, UAB -AmeriCorps VISTA Statewide Program School of Public Health. “We value our relationships with 28 community-serving agencies in the Birmingham metro area and the Black Belt region of the state. These agencies place members in communities to make Alabama a more equitable and health state.”

The grant, which is part of AmeriCorps’s historic $1 billion American Rescue Plan investment, will allow UAB to expand its reach in the Birmingham metro area and the surrounding region. AmeriCorps members will collaborate with community partners, farmers, food banks and other community resources to identify funding opportunities, develop marketing materials and conduct outreach activities to promote food resources.  This VISTA initiative also will bolster UAB’s ability to serve food insecure populations by recruiting and managing volunteers.

The announcement comes as the country marks AmeriCorps Week, March 13-19, a celebration of the millions of Americans who have chosen to serve their country through AmeriCorps and encourage more Americans to follow in their footsteps in service. Every year, AmeriCorps places more than 250,000 AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers in intensive service roles. The weeklong celebration also honors the contributions and support of thousands of community organizations that make AmeriCorps programs possible.  

AmeriCorps continues to invest in the nation’s COVID-19 recovery. With existing programs in more than 40,000 locations across the country, AmeriCorps is uniquely positioned to bolster community response efforts. In response to the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers across all 50 states and U.S. territories have continued their service, quickly adapting to meet the changing needs caused by the pandemic and have provided vital support, community response, and recovery efforts, providing support to more than 12.5 million Americans, including 2.5 million people at vaccination sites.