Since the beginning of the annual Summit League Food Fight competition, over 148,000 pounds has been raised. "It is wonderful to see each university in The Summit League show that they care about their communities." said Dan Kahn, President of Students Team Up To Fight Hunger. "Every food bank tells me that demand is up and donations down during these times of economic uncertainty, so every bit of food helps tremendously. The food fights held by these universities will make a real difference." During the 2011-12 season, the Summit League collected 73,297 pounds of food for local communities.
An idea STUFH is spreading across the country is to raise tons of food during the Fall college football season by holding a Food Fight inspired by intense university rivalry. The battle on the football field can be mirrored with a battle to raise the most food for the local food bank.
The West Alabama and East Alabama Food Banks have been competing with each other for the past twelve years. Auburn University and the University of Alabama students compete with each other in the weeks prior to the state's biggest football game to see which university can raise the most food for their local food bank. The challenge has grown from a small scale event with about 1,000 pounds donated to now being the largest food drive in the entire state. In 2007 alone, the early years of the food fight, the University of Alabama raised 241,336 pounds and Auburn University raised 183,017, for a total of 424,353 pounds of food. The total pounds of food raised by both universities during the past ten years is the equivalent of over 1,000,000 meals or 40 tractor-trailer loads of food. Of course the real winners are the hungry families fed throughout the Alabama Food Bank network.
As Martha Faupel, Executive of the East Alabama Food Bank notes, “people that live outside Alabama cannot possibly know what a real football rivalry is! It’s more than the 60 minutes played each year. It’s bragging rights for an entire year. The opportunity to beat the opponent university is just too good to pass up!”
This fantastically successful competition was the brainchild of Craig Young of the West Alabama Food Bank who thought as long as there is such intense competition, food banks ought to put it to a good use for the entire community. He noted that the rivalry inspires the food drive but student campus organizations is what drives it.
Some ideas for promoting the event include distribution of flyers such as Auburn’s “Beat Bama Food Drive” in the two or three week period just prior to the game itself. The food banks also invite local grocery stores, elementary and high schools and other student groups such as fraternities, sororities, key clubs and volunteer groups to participate in raising food for the drive. As the food drive becomes more advanced, football celebrities make donations and weekly totals are published to stimulate continued competition. They also get the full support of the athletic departments of the universities, the student leadership organizations and the administration. People begin to wear t-shirts exclaiming, “Beat Bama” or “Beat Auburn”.
There is no end to the possibilities in involving the entire football crazed community. While Martha and Craig believe that their rivalry surpasses any in the country, Mississippi, Kentucky, Michigan and many, many other states also foster similar intense competition between universities which can be tapped into by area food banks.
Food Fights are now being organized or considered for:
The Food Fight is a great way to have fun, beat your opponent and, along the way, feed thousands of less fortunate Americans. For example, some colleges place bins around campus during football and basketball games asking students to donate a can of food with the slogan ONE CAN make a difference!
If your food bank or university is interested or would like more information, please email Dan Kahn.
Martha Faupel is more than willing to share her ideas and suggesstions for successful food fight rivalries at other potential university locations. Martha, the executive director of the East Alabama Food Bank can be reached at (334) 821-9006 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Martha has also sent STUFH a packet of materials on how to implement a Food Fight rivalry which is available upon request.
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