Annual friendly competition between UA and Auburn fights food insecurity in Alabama
The University of Alabama’s Beat Auburn Beat Hunger food drive has started.
The drive at UA focuses on raising food for the West Alabama Food Bank in order to fight food insecurity in Alabama.
The United States Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as “the lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life”.
Rebecca Wilson, the president of Beat Auburn Beat Hunger, said this is an issue across the country and here in Alabama.
“In our state, over 700,000 people are classified as food insecure. That's nearly one in seven people. So, it's a really pressing issue that we get to address, and we get to help people in need,” she explained.
According to Feeding America, in 2021 in Tuscaloosa County, there were 27,000 food insecure people.
Beat Auburn Beat hunger is not just done at The University of Alabama. Auburn University also does their own version of the food drive.
Feeding Alabama also reports that in Lee County in 2021, the food insecure population was 23,000 people.
Wilson said the initiative started 30 years ago on a much smaller scale.
“It started as small food drives on each campus and then in 1994 kind of became incorporated in the sense of making it a true competition, creating an organization name. This year and 2023, we are celebrating our 30th annual food sights,” Wilson said.
The drive is now a full-fledged competition between the rival schools. Wilson said last year, The University of Alabama reached a new record for food donated.
“We actually had a record number of pounds donated with 565,000 pounds of food during those seven weeks, which is almost an unreal number to fathom,” she said.
The donations needed for the West Alabama Food Bank are not just limited to The University of Alabama’s campus. Wilson said the wider Tuscaloosa area community is very willing to donate to their cause.
“We actually had a record number of staff applications this year with students aiming to be involved more on campus, particularly in our food drive. And then throughout the community, we see so much support during the semester, where we have churches who collect donations for us, we get to put our barrels in schools, local businesses do [a] percentage night. So really, we couldn't do it without all the support that we have from campus and throughout Tuscaloosa,” she said.
Wilson said that while the vast majority of people donate their canned food, the West Alabama Food Bank is more than happy to accept any type of donation.
“The food bank absolutely accepts everything. Monetary donations are a really good way for the food bank [to] provide what they need and buy those goods using the monetary donations rather than the food donations,” she said.
If participants cannot donate canned food items, Beat Auburn Beat Hunger also accepts monetary donations. To donate money for the food drive, donors can Venmo at West Alabama Food Bank.
“And all of those donations during our drive will go toward our total pounds of food rates. Every dollar is two pounds. You can write a check to the West Alabama Food Bank or to Beat Auburn Beat Hunger,” Wilson said.
The Food drive will end November 16. For more information on the food drive, click here.