Boxes of donated food at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank during a recent UCLA volunteer trip
Bruins and Trojans will tackle more than each other at this year’s big football face-off. In another cross-town competition, they are going to try to beat back hunger in Los Angeles.
A week before Thanksgiving, the two universities will “Tackle Hunger” as UCLA and USC battle to see which school can donate the most food, money and service hours to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank during the week leading up to the big game Nov. 22 at the Rose Bowl.
The friendly competition takes place during UCLA’s annual Fund and Food Drive, running now through Dec. 12. Contributions from Nov. 16-22 will also count toward the Tackle Hunger competition, including donations online or via text during the game itself.
The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is familiar to many Bruins, who volunteer there year-round on their own or through the UCLA Volunteer Center, which has adopted the food bank as a regular service site. Previous UCLA holiday food and fund drives have collected as much as 42,000 pounds of donated meals to benefit families in need. This year’s drive is supported by UCLA Events and Transportation, the Volunteer Center, Athletics, the Alumni Association and the Chancellor’s Office.
“We’re excited to be a part of the food drive to ‘Tackle Hunger,’” said Renée Fortier, executive director of UCLA Events and Transportation. “Supporting the L.A. Regional Food Bank is a true win-win, as it benefits the community at large as well as the on-campus UCLA Food Closet, an informal service for students who occasionally need a helping hand.”
Tackle Hunger also is consistent the objectives of the University of California Global Food Initiative, which seeks to harness UC resources to address global food needs. UC President Janet Napolitano announced the initiative in July in a UCLA student-run garden and at two other California locations.
Whether to beat the Trojans or help during the holidays, Bruins can volunteer at the food bank, donate online to the food bank or the food closet and drop food in bins at one of seven locations on campus. In the week leading up to the game, UCLA will also have donation bins next to the Bruin statue in Bruin Plaza, and supporters can also give $10 by texting GOUCLA to 85944, or even donate their Facebook or Twitter status to Tackle Hunger. A pre-game announcement at the Rose Bowl will rally UCLA fans to donate by text to beat ’SC.
Los Angeles County regularly leads the nation in the number of people who are food-insecure; in the L.A. region, 42 percent of low-income adults lack regular access to enough food, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, which works with the food bank.
“Although one school will prevail, both schools get bragging rights to feeding thousands of people who are food-insecure in Los Angeles County,” said Michael Flood, president and CEO of the L.A. Regional Food Bank. “One dollar feeds four people, so one person can make a difference.”