Aubie wearing the 2013 Beat Bama Food Drive Goal t-shirt.
The Iron Bowl is next month, but Auburn University and the University of Alabama are already in rivalry mode as the two schools collect non-perishable food to stock local food banks.
Now in its 20th year, the Beat Bama Food Drive unites students, faculty, alumni and community members to help fight hunger and poverty in the state.
The good-natured competition reaches far beyond the campuses.
"This is the largest food drive for us and one of the largest drives in the state of Alabama," said Martha Henk, executive director of the Food Bank of East Alabama. "It's not an exaggeration to say that the results of this drive determine whether some families have meals for Thanksgiving, Christmas and on into the new year. It has that dramatic of an impact."
The six-week competition runs until Nov. 25 and includes a number of events: benefit nights at Chill Yogurt, Gigi's Cupcakes and TCBY; 5K and Night Bike at Chewacla State Park; and a silent auction. Eighteen barrels are located on- and off-campus to collect non-perishable items, and donors are asked to contribute $20 to commemorate the 20th anniversary.
Auburn, the reigning champion, has beaten Alabama 11 years of the past 19. Last fall, Auburn raised the highest amount either school has collected to date, 273,650 pounds of food. Auburn's goal this year is to raise 350,000 pounds, approximately one month of operation for the Food Bank of East Alabama.
Athletic Director Jay Jacobs asks for your support of the Food Drive.
"The incredible aspect of this is that there are no losers," said Leanna Barker, president of the Beat Bama Food Drive. "Everyone truly benefits as we are able to provide food for thousands of individuals."
Tim King, advisor for the Center for Community Service at Auburn, said that while the target is ambitious, knowing the number of mouths that will be fed keeps participants motivated.
"The food bank is in a deficit and we want to do everything we can to reach our goal," King said.
Henk, who became executive director of the Food Bank of East Alabama a year after the challenge originated, said it has been incredible to watch it grow.
"We started out raising 500 meals, and today more than 1.2 million meals have been provided from this food drive," Henk said.
Beat Bama Food Drive staff at the Wiregrass Alumni Club meeting with Gus Malzahn.
While the event is student-driven, it is not solely for the universities. The community supports the cause by creating local competitions between schools and businesses.
"The main goal for both Auburn and Alabama is that we are educating our students, faculty, staff, community and fans nationwide on the huge issue of food insecurity and how they can help," said King. "There are 22,130 people in Lee County facing this issue and it is our duty in the Auburn Family to do what we can to help our neighbors."
For volunteer, event and donation information, visit beatbamafooddrive.com.
Beat Bama Food Drive events:
- Thursday, Oct. 24 - Benefit Night at Chill Yogurt, 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.
- Monday, Nov. 4 - Benefit Night at Gigi's Cupcakes, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Thursday, Nov. 7 - 5K and Night Bike at Chewacla State Park - registration starts at 4p.m. and the race begins at 6 p.m.
- Thursday, Nov. 14 - Benefit Night at TCBY – 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
- Friday, Nov. 15 - Silent Auction at the Auburn Alumni Center, 6 – 9 p.m.
- Thursday, Nov. 21 - So You Think You "Can" Sing Open Mic Night on the Auburn green space (backup location is Foy Ballroom), 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
— By Chelsea Payne, Zachary St. Clair and Amanda Foster, Division of Student Affairs
Last Updated: Oct. 24, 2013