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Alabama vs. Auburn: A Rivalry Stretching Beyond Football

Published on December 12, 2017, at 10:46 a.m.
by Hyland Stockton.

While the original rivalry between The University of Alabama and Auburn University started in 1893  with the widely popular “Iron Bowl,” a new competition began a hundred years later in 1994. This new competition, while still very heated, takes a little bit of a different approach than pure competition: It is a competitive food drive between the two colleges that supplies food for local food banks. Since 1994, the two food drives have raised a total of 5.5 million pounds of food to help people with food insecurity in Alabama.

The 2017 competition started on Oct. 1 and ended Nov. 15, right before the Iron Bowl and Thanksgiving. When the totals were tallied, The University of Alabama’s Beat Auburn Beat Hunger won the competition by raising 260,453 pounds of food. While this is a huge accomplishment, Madison Green, Beat Auburn Beat Hunger’s vice president of marketing, said the bigger accomplishment is that the drives raised just under a half-million pounds of food for the state.

Beat Auburn Beat Hunger logo

Beat Auburn Beat Hunger
Beat Auburn Beat Hunger is the food drive hosted at The University of Alabama that services the West Alabama Food Bank. Although the drive lasts only six weeks, the BABH executive board works with the West Alabama Food Bank throughout the year on the logistics of the drive.

How they do it
With the success of raising 260,453 pounds of food in six weeks, BABH has some major strategy behind its madness. Green said this year’s biggest push was Venmo and online giving. She explained that this strategy allowed alumni who live far away to support the drive. Also, students could donate $3 through Venmo and receive a greek point, an incentive that sorority and fraternity members receive for community and service involvement, in return. Therefore, they were more apt to donate since they did not actually have to go purchase cans of food.

In addition to the online giving, Green said the competitions that are created throughout the university’s campus and the Tuscaloosa community drive donations as well. Oftentimes, dorms will compete between dorm floors, the alumni networks compete, and teachers offer bonuses for students who bring cans.

Beat Bama Food Drive logo

Beat Bama Food Drive
Beat Bama Food Drive is the food drive hosted by Auburn University students. The BBFD services the Food Bank of East Alabama, which serves seven counties. Although the BBFD did not win the competition for 2017, it still raised 232,544 pounds of food for the East Alabama region.

How they do it
Although the Beat Bama Food Drive has online giving as well, when asked how the staff drive donations, Sarah English, BBFD’s president, said they host different events and drive competitions between the sororities and fraternities on campus. She explained that the winning fraternity had the chance to meet Bruce Pearl, Auburn’s head basketball coach In addition, each sorority was given Panhellenic points based on the number of cans they donated, and Auburn’s best greek sing seats are given to the sorority with the most Panhellenic points at the end of the year.

Just as the Beat Auburn Beat Hunger drive includes the Tuscaloosa community, the BBFD incorporates the Auburn community in its donations. On Sundays during the drive, the members of BBFD went to local grocery stores and handed out fliers listing the things needed by the Food Bank of East Alabama.

Whether it is on the field or donating food, Auburn and Alabama are always ready to beat the other school. English noted this innate nature for competition drives the donations. So perhaps this competitive spirit is why the competition raised a half-million pounds of food in its 24th year, as opposed to the 2,000 pounds collected by the two schools during the first year of the competition.

Whether you cheer for Alabama, Auburn or neither team, it is important to realize the issue of food insecurity in your backyard. As of 2016, 12.3 percent of people in the United States are food insecure. So next year, when Thanksgiving is rounding the corner, do not forget to take part in the competition or donate to a local food bank near you to help alleviate food insecurity at home.

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