While the Ohio State and Michigan football teams are a mere 22 days from battling in Ann Arbor, student groups from both universities are teaming up to fight hunger.
OSU’s on-campus service organization, SERV Corps, is competing against Michigan’s Circle K in the Battle Against Hunger, a canned food competition to collect the most pounds of canned goods. Circle K is a service organization at the University of Michigan.
In years past, the canned food collection has only been a week long. As the OSU-Michigan football game is the Saturday after Thanksgiving this year, SERV Corps’s annual drive is three weeks from Nov. 1 to Nov. 22.
“In the past it has always been during ‘Beat Michigan’ week, but given that the game is Thanksgiving weekend, students are only here for three days,” said Meghan Morris, a third-year in math and French and Battle Against Hunger coordinator. “We figured we weren’t going to collect as many cans as we would like so we thought we would make it the whole month.”
Michigan’s Circle K representative, Vivian Yu, said the school rivalry is a great way to motivate students to help.
“I think it’s an excellent way to use our respective school spirit to fuel more community service on our campuses, as well as spread awareness of the hunger issues that affect our communities on a daily basis,” Yu said in an email.
Another representative from Michigan’s Circle K, Marcus Bodner, said the rivalry between OSU and Michigan raises interest in the hunger drive.
“Through competition with a rival university, we are able to add more energy and bring a greater awareness to our goal of fighting hunger,” Bodner said in an email. “Students become more active in the cause and everyone is more willing to donate when you add a little competition and extra incentive.”
Last year, OSU collected more than 800 pounds of canned goods, Morris said. Michigan, however, collected 1,250 pounds during their Halloween Trick-or-Can collection, where volunteers go trick-or-treating for canned goods.
SERV Corp’s goal is not only to beat Michigan in pounds of food collected, but also to raise awareness about hunger in the U.S.
“We’re beating Michigan and beating hunger,” Morris said.
Some canned foods found at SERV Corps booths in the Union and the RPAC this week and next week will have labels with a hunger statistic on it to promote hunger awareness, Morris said.
SERV Corps organizes and runs Battle Against Hunger with assistance from Global Nutrition Club, a student organization that focuses on helping malnourished communities.
Lauren Saunders, a fourth-year in human dietetics and president of Global Nutrition Club, said her goal is to impact the Columbus community in a larger way.
“Just think, if every student donated just one non-perishable food item, we would have over 56,000 products to donate to our local food banks, which is simply amazing,” Saunders said in an email. “And of course, it is crucial to beat ‘the state up north’ in any competition in which we take part, so why not help out?”
Battle Against Hunger’s collected canned goods are donated to local food pantries. Michigan donates to Food Gathers, a non-profit food distribution organization in Michigan. All of OSU’s collected canned goods will be donated to Columbus’s Neighborhood Services, Inc. and the Broad Street Food Pantry.
Kathy Kelly-Long, Food Pantry manager for the Broad Street Food Pantry, said she is happy to be a recipient of the Battle Against Hunger food drive donation.
“Broad street food pantry is excited to be part of the battle against hunger since it will provide us with items we do normally have and allow us to stretch our budget,” Kelly-Long said in an email. “We serve 650 families every month and this extra food is important to our families.”
SERV Corps is also selling Battle Against Hunger T-shirts for $5 with proceeds going to those same food banks.
Students can donate canned goods at Battle Against Hunger collection sites found in the Ohio Union, RPAC and residence halls on campus.