Shortly before the MU men’s basketball team shut the doors on the Razorbacks on Tuesday night, the Food Fight versus the University of Arkansas and MU shut its own.
Beginning on Feb. 27, the Food Fight was a community-wide philanthropic effort with a competitive edge. Tiger Pantry encouraged students to donate a number of nonperishable goods — from canned veggies to soap — at drop-off points all over campus. Arkansas’s own Full Circle Pantry did the same.
Each donated item had a point value attached to it, ranging from one to three, based on need and scarcity, much like basketball. Point totals are still being tallied, and a winner will be announced this weekend.
This being the first of more potential Food Fights, Tiger Pantry Fundraising Coordinator Tim Lewis kept an open mind while planning the event, he said. Expectations were similar to that of a typical food drive where anywhere from 300 to 400 pounds of food are donated.
“I was kind of putting it low because of the snow,” Lewis said. “Unfortunately, it set some students back and made them stay indoors.”
But the snow wasn’t much of a deterrent. Based on early estimates from a team of volunteers counting the food, donations may have reached as much as 600 to 700 pounds, Lewis said.
“As a whole, the Mizzou community has done really well to rally together around this cause,” Lewis said.
Lewis initially contacted Daniel Caruph, coordinator of the Full Circle Pantry Food Fight, with ideas that would eventually become the Food Fight. After the date was picked to revolve around the men’s basketball game, Caruph and others spread the word around the Arkansas campus.
Full Circle Pantry was established shortly before Tiger Pantry, further establishing a rivalry between not only the schools, but the pantries, too. After its first two years of existence, Full Circle has gone on to raise 15,000 pounds in its third.
This isn’t Arkansas’s first Food Fight. Last semester, Full Circle hosted one between the different colleges at the university, student government, Greek Life and non-university affiliated organizations. This puts its fight with MU on a much larger scale.
The Southeastern Conference also breeds competition, and the Food Fight is no different, Caruph said.
“The SEC loves competition, so that was a great way to draw people in,” Caruph said. “It’s a great advertisement for it because people know they can utilize us.”
Currently, Arkansas’ approximate point total stands at 11,270, Caruph said.
There’s already potential for another Food Fight this time next year as the pantries begin preliminary talks, Lewis said. For the next competition, Lewis spoke about teaming up with the bookstore to sell T-shirts for the event, increased marketing and procuring a hog to roast, symbolic of the Arkansas mascot.
At Arkansas, advertising will be key next year, Caruph said. Posters and email were the main means of communication this year.
Now that the event has concluded, Caruph said he enjoyed the event and hopes it will make a return next year. Despite the Razorbacks suffering a bad loss at Mizzou Arena, a win or loss in the Food Fight is arbitrary, he said. It all goes to a good cause.
While it may be hard to pick against MU Athletics, a victory for Tiger Pantry would be a significant achievement, Lewis said.
“A win for the Tiger Pantry isn’t just a win like a men’s basketball team win would be,” Lewis said. “It would be more of a win for the Mizzou community because everyone can pitch in and support this cause.”