Beat Auburn Beat Hunger in lead at halfway point


CW/ Austin Bigoney

Jennifer Johns , Contributing Writer

For some students like McKenzie Walker, a freshman majoring in political science, food insecurity is more personal.

From Florence, Alabama, Walker remembers many classmates receiving free lunch through the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program for Alabama. In 2016, 24.5 percent of Florence residents had income below the poverty level, compared to 22.3 percent across the state. Beat Auburn Beat Hunger stuck out to Walker when she visited Get On Board Day, so she got involved in volunteering for it.

“There is nothing like that where I’m from,” Walker said.

The University of Alabama is currently winning against Auburn University in the annual Beat Auburn Beat Hunger canned food drive, as of Oct. 23.

Volunteers of the Beat Auburn Beat Hunger team said halfway through its canned food drive, the University led with 21,145 pounds to Auburn’s 15,946 pounds. Beat Auburn Beat Hunger exceeded the number of volunteers it has ever had this year with 117 volunteers.

The annual competition between the two universities runs from Oct. 1 to Nov. 16 this year. UA students and Tuscaloosa community members collect canned food to benefit the West Alabama Food Bank while Auburn University collects canned food for the Food Bank of East Alabama.

Over the 25 years of the competition’s existence, the two universities have collected over 6 million pounds of food for Alabama residents. Over the last 11 years, the University has won 7 times, claiming the most recent win in 2017, when it collected 260,453 pounds of food versus Auburn’s 232,544 pounds.

Jacob Burnham, vice president of outreach for the food drive and a junior majoring in chemical engineering, works to spread the word about the drive and drum up buzz about related events happening around campus.

“We’ve seen a lot of people come to know about the reality of food problems, especially in Tuscaloosa,” Burnham said.

One in every six people struggle with hunger in Alabama, according to Feeding America, a hunger relief organization. There are currently 800,620 people struggling with hunger in the state with 247,140 being children.

The Department of Health and Human Services has poverty guidelines to determine who is eligible for federal subsidies and aid. The current poverty threshold, or poverty line, for a family of four is $25,100.

Though beating Auburn is a goal, Burnham said gathering food is what matters.

“Truly, it’s just to get as much as we can for West Alabama Food Bank,” Burnham said.

One of the initiative’s most recent events was Tell Hunger to Suck It, where volunteers sold lollipops for $2 each, equaling four pounds of food. Jacealyn DePoyster, a freshman majoring in nursing, said volunteering with Beat Auburn Beat Hunger interested her because of the way it helps people in a more immediate way.

“You can see the progress,” DePoyster said. “It’s so easy to make a big impact.”

Those interested in helping Beat Auburn Beat Hunger can donate money to their Venmo account, @ua_babh, or online at T-shirts supporting the drive can be purchased at and People can also donate items in the red barrels around campus and the community such as canned goods, canned meats, granola bars, peanut butter, pasta and sauce with meat.