What does it take to build healthy, resilient communities and people? Alicia Powers, managing director for the Hunger Solutions Institute (HSI) in Auburn’s College of Human Sciences, is on a mission to strategically address that question in every aspect of her academic and service-oriented career. Her research and service efforts with HSI — including nutrition incentive programs for SNAP households in Alabama and beyond — have made many take notice and take action.
This November, Powers received the Ellen Swallow Richards Public Service Award — one of the highest honors bestowed by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Board on Health and Human Sciences. The award recognizes her national leadership in addressing and advancing human sciences in nutrition.
“Dr. Alicia Powers’ contributions through the Hunger Solutions Institute epitomize excellence and impact, aligning seamlessly with our mission as a land-grant university,” states Auburn University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Vini Nathan. “This prestigious award not only brings national recognition to Auburn University but also energizes our ongoing endeavors to address the needs of individuals, families and communities worldwide.”
“Dr. Alicia Powers’ contributions through the Hunger Solutions Institute epitomize excellence and impact, aligning seamlessly with our mission as a land-grant university. This prestigious award not only brings national recognition to Auburn University but also energizes our ongoing endeavors to address the needs of individuals, families, and communities worldwide.”
Prior to joining HSI, Powers worked as Associate Professor of Health Sciences at Furman University and co-founded Live Well Greenville, a coalition of organizations partnering to ensure access to healthy eating and active living opportunities for Greenville County, South Carolina residents. Powers came to HSI in 2018 as the director of strategy and policy under the late Dean June Henton. A year later, upon Henton’s retirement, Powers transitioned to her current role as managing director.
“My goal was to develop the research area within HSI in order to build HSI into a strong academic center that integrates its foundational activities — teaching, research and service,” Powers said. “My first priority was to enhance HSI’s grants to support research and impact throughout communities with limited resources to build the service component. Then, graduate and undergraduate students become involved with the research and service projects, so we integrate the teaching component.”
Powers has since built a robust research program around four main priorities: hunger and food access; hunger and higher education; hunger and health; and hunger and rural communities. To date, she has successfully received more than $8 million in funding to help families using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by developing access to resources for incorporating more fruits, vegetables and milk products into their diets through Double Up Food Bucks Alabama and the nationwide Add Milk! program.
“There is no one more deserving of this esteemed award and recognition than Alicia Powers,” remarked Susan Hubbard, dean of Auburn's College of Human Sciences. “Not only has she successfully secured millions of dollars in grants, facilitating the introduction of nutritious choices for low-income residents nationwide, but Alicia is also frequently invited to contribute her expertise on White House panels. These discussions, focusing on research and outreach initiatives, have far-reaching implications that positively impact lives globally.”
Hubbard and Nathan were present as Powers received the award in Seattle during the Board on Health and Human Services Awards luncheon.
From left, Auburn University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Vini Nathan, Managing Director for the Hunger Solutions Institute (HSI) in Auburn’s College of Human Sciences Alicia Powers and College of Human Sciences Dean Susan Hubbard.
“I am humbled to receive the 2023 Ellen Swallow Richards Public Service Award. I pursued a PhD in nutrition and make decisions for each step of my professional journey with one particular purpose in mind — to use my time and talents to serve populations living in under-resourced communities,” Powers said. “I had the fortune of working at incredible universities and organizations who magnified my purpose and provided me tremendous opportunities to strategically work toward this purpose. It is an honor to receive this particular award as the late Dean Emeritus and Founding Executive Director of Hunger Solutions Institute June Henton also received this award.”
For more information about the Hunger Solutions Institute at Auburn University, click here.