Beat Auburn Beat Hunger: Doing Good in the Name of the Iron Bowl

This past Saturday, November 24th, Alabama collegiettes cheered the Tide to an overwhelming win against the Auburn Tigers—an unbelievable 49 to 0 victory. The Iron Bowl rivalry is deeply entrenched in tradition, making almost every Alabamian a diehard fan of either crimson or orange.

However, in 1994, these two schools decided to put this fiery rivalry to good use by hosting simultaneous competitive food drives in an effort to combat hunger in the state. Thus began Beat Auburn Beat Hunger and Beat Alabama Beat Hunger. Because both Alabama and Auburn love to claim any bragging rights possible, these food drives allow fans of both schools to support their teams in the race for the food fight trophy, all in the name of donating to a good cause. During the friendly 'food fight,' the two teams collect non-perishable food items that are donated to both the West Alabama Food Bank and the Food Bank of East Alabama at the conclusion of the competition.

UA's Community Service Center runs Beat Auburn Beat Hunger (BABH), which took place from October 8 to November 16, 2012 in the buildup to the Iron Bowl. This year, the Community Service Center (CSC) team set a goal for UA of 250,000 pounds.

During the 19 years of the competition, the CSC has expanded ways to donate to BABH, including adding a 5K race through UA's campus, a pie throwing competition featuring campus celebrities like student athletes and well-known professors, and a letter writing campaign. Additionally, bringing cans to various sports events on campus served as free entrance. Monetary donations were also accepted, and those figures were converted into equivalent 'pounds.' These new methods of donation allowed BABH to exceed the goal of 250,000 pounds; the total for UA was 266,737 pounds, just shy of Auburn's total of 273,650 pounds for the 2012 year.


These figures are absolutely astounding—even more so is the 3 million total pounds of food donated since Beat Alabama and Beat Auburn began in 1994. Of that figure, 1,687,874 pounds were donated from The University of Alabama to the West Alabama Food Bank, a non-profit located in Northport, Ala., that benefits 315,000 residents in nine surrounding counties.

"I am so proud of the work that our students and the staff of the West Alabama Food Bank put into the drive this year. The food drive was truly another example of this community coming together to help others," said Wahnee Sherman, director of UA's Community Service Center.

Haley Clemons, an Alabama Collegiette and Her Campus Alabama writer, is the Student Director of Public Relations and Graphic Design at the Community Service Center. Her role at the CSC including writing news releases, creating the organization's monthly newsletter, contacting local media outlets to gain placements for service events and aiding the graphic design team make decisions on event fliers and emails.

When asked about her experience working for the CSC, Haley said, "When I first became involved with BABH, I was amazed at the shocking statistics of hunger insecurity that our community faces. BABH mainly exists to alleviate those hunger issues and bring together the community in a positive way. It also creates friendly competition between UA and Auburn while both working toward the same goal."

An interesting tidbit: when comparing the annual food fight statistics and past outcomes of the Iron Bowl, it seems that in several years, the particular victor on the football field is also the winner of bragging rights in the Beat Auburn/Beat Alabama competition. Auburn's winning streak on the field from 2002 to 2007 corresponds with food fight wins from 2000 to 2006. Since football coach Nick Saban’s arrival to Alabama in 2007 and his success on the field, UA has been the winner of the canned food drive 4 out of the past 6 years—including being the first school to top 200,000 pounds of donations in 2007.

Perhaps when a team is doing well, the spirit of competition compels those fans to work even harder to win both bragging rights—Iron Bowl and food fight? Either way, win or lose, the Beat Auburn Beat Hunger and Beat Alabama Beat Hunger showdown benefits those who need it most—families struggling with hunger and food insecurity in our state.