NORMAN — Throughout the month of September, the University of Oklahoma Food Pantry will be competing with the University of Texas’s food pantry, the UT Outpost, to see which pantry can receive the most shelf-sustainable food.
The competition has been named the “Red River Food Fight” and the winner will be named the “Red River Food Fight Champion.”
Matt Marks, campus care coordinator and director of the OU Food Pantry, said they are hoping this competition will help both universities as they try to combat the above-average rates of food insecurity within each of the respective states.
“It’s a fun way to celebrate a historic rivalry,” Marks said. “There’s a lot of competitiveness on the football field, but we are coming together to combat food insecurity and hunger, which plagues both our states. Texas and Oklahoma are two of the hungrier states in our nation and this is a great way to come together to take steps to solve this problem. We’ve got a great relationship with the pantry down in Texas, and just had great conversations with them to bring this together and unite around a very heated game to try to take care of people within our communities.”
Royce Coleman, sophomore biochemistry major in the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences and OU Food Pantry associate director of campus engagement, said he began having conversations with UT last fall.
While there was immediate interest, the timeline was too near to effectively execute the drive. But this year, the timing was right.
“The initial goal of the competition was to utilize our historic rivalry and our extremely passionate fan bases toward benefiting both of our food pantries, which in turn would allow us to better provide for our students and staff,” Coleman said. “We are hopeful that the many fans of this rivalry (the greatest college rivalry in the nation, if I may say so myself) will join us in promoting this competition and help us combat the food insecurity that exists on our campuses.”
Valeria Martin, assistant director for basic needs at the University of Texas at Austin, said there was no hesitation when the OU Food Pantry representatives approached them.
“We were so excited when the OU Food Pantry team approached us with the idea to collaborate in a friendly competition for the benefit of our campus pantries,” Martin said. “Our goal for the Red River Food Fight is to raise awareness about UT Outpost in our community. Drawing on the rivalry and competition helps energize our campus around supporting UT Outpost and keeping the pantry stocked while making more students aware of UT Outpost as a resource.”
The winner of the Red River Food Fight will be announced on Oct. 7, the day of the Red River Rivalry football game. Boxes to donate canned goods and shelf-sustainable food to the OU Food Pantry have been scattered across campus; donations also may be made directly to the food pantry. Other items and monetary donations are always welcomed but will not go toward the competition.