AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Auburn University has emerged as the victor in the 2016 Beat Bama Food Drive.
Auburn takes home the trophy with 245,722 pounds of donated food to Alabama's 150,322 pounds.
The total pounds collected by both schools during this friendly competition is the equivalent of more than 4.25 million meals or 221 tractor-trailer loads!
For the past 22 years, Auburn University and the University of Alabama have competed with each other prior to the football game to see who could raise the most food for their local food bank. This has grown from a relatively small-scale event to become one of the largest food drives in Alabama.
Donated food is channeled into the senior and youth programs, soup kitchens, emergency food pantries, missions, and rehabilitation centers that are served by the Food Bank of East Alabama and the West Alabama Food Bank.
The real winners of this annual competition are the hungry families fed through the food bank network.
This year's competition ran from Saturday, Oct. 1 through Wednesday, Nov. 16. While this competition is primarily a student-organized activity, individuals, public schools, grocery store customers, and church groups strongly supported this effort.
Food-insecurity is a significant issue in the east Alabama community. The USDA estimates that 19 percent of Alabama's residents are food-insecure and lack a reliable source of food.
In the seven counties served by the Food Bank of East Alabama, a total of 70,120 people (including 20,080 children) fall into this category.
Many of these families struggle to pay housing, utility bills and medical costs.
To eat, they turn to food pantries and other food charities—most of which are supplied by the Food Bank.
If you would like to donate to the Food Bank of East Alabama, you can visit their website at this link.