BABH sets high goal for 20th year of competition

Mark Hammontree

In almost 20 years, the annual food drive competition between The University of Alabama and Auburn University has raised nearly 4 million pounds of food for Alabamians who do not have enough to eat.

The competition operates as separate student-run programs at each school: Beat Auburn, Beat Hunger at the Capstone raises food and money for the West Alabama Food Bank, while Beat Bama Food Drive works with the Food Bank of East Alabama.

The competition kicked off on Oct. 14 with an event at the Ferguson Center Plaza and is scheduled each year to lead up to the Iron Bowl. Polly Ricketts, the publicity director for BABH, said the rivalry between the football teams helps guide the food drives to be more productive.

“It’s great because it’s in the football season, so I guess people were already in the competitive spirit, and it really kind of leads up to the Auburn game,” Ricketts said. “So that’s one thing, at these service events, you really kind of see who’s ready for the football game. Also, the competitive spirit never really hurt anyone, so I definitely think it helps raise more pounds of food.”

Friday marked the final day of collection in the 20th competition, but the collection totals will not be fully counted until the end of this week. Last year, Auburn’s drive won with a total of 273,650 pounds, a competition record, while Alabama raised 266,737 pounds. Auburn is currently leading the competition, 11-8.

This year, BABH set a goal of collecting 275,000 pounds of food, while Auburn’s Beat Bama Food Drive set a goal of 350,000 pounds.

Ricketts said while the official numbers will not be known until Wednesday or Thursday, she believes the amount that has been raised is fairly close to or even above the goal.

The food drive accepts both physical and monetary donations. BABH held several events throughout the drive including a 5k, a tailgate and a letter-writing event called “Stamp Out Hunger.”

Ricketts said monetary donations are converted, for tallying purposes, at a rate of two pounds of food for each dollar. The food bank converts the total amount of money raised, and the totals are reflected for both Alabama and Auburn in pounds collected.

The final week of the competition often sees a great deal of last-minute donations as professors offer bonus points or student organizations offer incentives to donate. Ricketts said students from every part of campus participate in the drive, and that Panhellenic and IFC organizations donate a lot of cans, as do the Culverhouse ambassadors and the Arts and Sciences ambassadors who have their own competition.

The importance of the food drive is not lost in the competitive aspects, Ricketts said.

“I think the biggest importance is just the raising of food, pounds of food, for the holiday season,” Ricketts said. “At the end of the whole campaign, going to the food bank and seeing how much we’ve donated, whether we win or lose. I think the competitive spirit adds a little to it, but really it’s just about raising a lot of food for the food banks.”