Since 1994, the Beat Bama Food Drive and the Food Bank of East Alabama have united students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to help fight hunger and food insecurity in East Alabama by challenging the University of Alabama and the Food Bank of West Alabama to an annual competition collecting non-perishable food for those in need. The good-natured competition has made an impact that reaches far beyond the campuses where it began.
In 2017, Auburn collected 232,544 pounds of food to feed local families. Since its beginning, the competition has collected more than 5.5 million pounds of food.
“Nearly one in five Alabama residents, or 18.6 percent of the state, are considered food insecure,” said Martha Henk, executive director of the Food Bank of East Alabama. “The Food Bank of East Alabama serves seven counties in east central Alabama. The average food insecurity rate in this area is approximately 70,210 people, with 20,080 of those being children.”
Sarah English, president of Beat Bama Food Drive, said the annual competition has given her a sense of community.
“This competition is so important and necessary because there is an alarming number of people who are food insecure not only in our state, but also in our local area,” said English. “It is so humbling to see a group of students who come together from all walks of life to unite for one goal and that is to fight food insecurity in our area. Every individual in this organization has a heart full of compassion and a drive to serve Auburn and the surrounding area.”
Auburn native and Clemson University graduate Abby Jones began a rivalry food drive at Clemson modeling it after the Beat Bama Food Drive. Growing up, Jones and her family delivered food collected from the Beat Bama Food Drive to Auburn families. At Clemson, she recognized the need for a program to help combat hunger, and looked to the Beat Bama Food Drive for inspiration. The Palmetto Series Food Drive was created competing against Clemson’s rival, the University of South Carolina, and is now in its fourth year feeding families across South Carolina. Read the full story from the Auburn Villager here.