Cycling For Secret Meals to raise money to fight food insecurity

Sarah Clifton, Staff Reporter

Cycling For Secret Meals, an event hosted at Three15 Studio on April 7, will offer cycling classes to raise money to provide food for children facing food insecurity. 

The event, organized by a section of the University of Alabama’s APR 419, a public relations concepting and implementation class, will benefit Secret Meals for Hungry Children. 

Secret Meals for Hungry Children, which was founded by Alabama Credit Union in 2008 and operates in Alabama and Florida, seeks to “decrease the number of children in Alabama and Florida facing hunger over the weekend,” according to their website. 

According to Secret Meals for Hungry Children, 22% of both Alabama and Florida’s children live below the poverty level. By discreetly slipping “vitamin-fortified and nutritional” meal packs into the backpacks of the 2,500 children that are part of the program, the organization fills the gap in nutrition that students who rely on school lunches during the week face.  

Alaina McDuffie, a junior majoring in public relations, said all sections of APR 419 work to create different events as a final project to benefit Secret Meals for Hungry Children. Her APR 419 class is just one of many in the past decade that has contributed to helping this organization. 

“It’s kind of competitive between the different sections,” McDuffie said. “We are all supporting the same cause, so at the end of the day, we’ll all be raising money for Secret Meals. It’s still kind of cool to be the class to raise the most money and have the best event.” 

Lowery Thompson, a junior majoring in public relations who is involved in organizing the event, works as an instructor at Three15 Studio. Thompson said the local community and businesses have been instrumental in the process of making the event a reality. 

“My boss [at Three15 Studio] is an angel, and she has had kids go through the Tuscaloosa School System who were in classes with children who benefitted from Secret Meals,” Thompson said. “These local businesses know every single face that walks into their doors they want to support Tuscaloosa so much because they care about the people that live here so much, they’re so connected to it.” 

McDuffie said some businesses that donated said they were more solidly connected to the cause beyond empathy. 

“All of these local businesses are so willing to help because they can see the effects it’s very close to home for some of them,” McDuffie said. “There were some places that we reached out to that said ‘Oh, God, yeah, my kid was on this for a little while,’ or ‘Secret Meals helped us when we were between jobs, of course.’” 

McDuffie said she sees the event’s impact as something that can go beyond simply raising money. 

“My hope is that is people see us constantly posting about it, or they see the buttons that we’re wearing, you know, it might spark them to be like, ‘Hey, what’s this about?’” McDuffie said. “Any additional awareness is great, because maybe they’ll decide on their own to donate, or even just get the word out.” 

Registration for the event costs $25, which includes the class, a sports towel and a chance to win gift cards. For more information on Cycling for Secret Meals, visit the event’s Linktree.