LEND A HAND: University of Alabama students raise $2,700 for Secret Meals through Battle of the Baristas

LEND A HAND: University of Alabama students raise $2,700 for Secret Meals through Battle of the Baristas

Instead of spending a semester studying for tests, senior public relations students at the University of Alabama were tasked with raising awareness and funds to alleviate childhood food insecurity with Secret Meals for Hungry Children.

With the Tuscaloosa community’s support, the event organized by the UA students raised enough money to feed 19 children every weekend for an entire school year.

Students partnered with the Alabama Credit Union and Monarch Espresso Bar to create the Battle of the Baristas. The competitive philanthropic event took place at Monarch Espresso Bar, 714 22nd Ave., and all proceeds benefited Secret Meals for Hungry Children.

A $10 wristband purchase gave attendees the opportunity to enter for door prizes and the chance to sample new drinks concocted by six baristas. Attendees voted on the best overall specialty drink, with the winning drink being added to Monarch Espresso Bar’s menu.

The family friendly competition attracted 131 attendees, and 17 community organizations served as sponsors for the Battle of the Baristas.

Six baristas competed in four rounds. Molly Inhofe and her drink Summer Peelings took first place in the creativity round, while Caitlin Giles’ The Mounty won the presentation and tasting round. The Mounty also took the grand prize of best overall. Besides bragging rights, Giles will see her specialty drink featured on Monarch Espresso Bar’s menu.

Overall, the Battle of Baristas raised more than $2,700 that will directly benefit Secret Meals for Hungry Children. With the cost to feed one child for an entire school year estimated at $140, the money raised through the Battle of Baristas will feed 19 West Alabama schoolchildren.

Developed in 2008 by the Alabama Credit Union, Secret Meals gathers food from the West Alabama Food Bank. Once the food is packed, it’s shipped to schools each Thursday by the West Alabama Food Bank or by Alabama Credit Union employees. The packs are distributed to the classrooms. Fridays, the teachers put the food in their backpacks during times when there are no students in the classroom, such as recess.

A typical weekend food pack will contain two milks, two juices, two cereal breakfasts, two lunchesm, consisting of cans of ravioli or macaroni and cheese, and two fruit snacks or fruit cups.

Currently 2,312 students are receiving Secret Meals food packs across Alabama and into Florida.

For more information on Secret Meals for Hungry Children, visit the website at www.secretmeals.org or call 888-817-2002.