UT-Austin, OU compete in canned food drive competition

Kiernan McCormick

UT is competing against The University of Oklahoma in a canned food drive to combat food insecurity on campus as part of UT’s first annual spirit week.

The Red River Canned Food Drive competition began March 22 and will end Friday, according to a tweet from UT Student Government. The drop off locations for donations include Perry-Castañeda Library, the Texas Union, the William C. Powers, Jr. Student Activity Center and the Starbucks on 24th Street. All donations from the UT community will go to the UT Outpost. OU’s donations will go to the OU Food Pantry.

The UT Outpost serves as a food and toiletry bank, and also has a career closet that helps students in need of professional clothing for jobs and internships.  

Tavana Farzaneh, president of the Student Government Association at the University of Oklahoma, said she is excited about the partnership.

“Our schools … are rivals, but we’re very similar at the same time,” Farzaneh said. “It’s just exciting knowing that we get to partner up and do cool things like this.”

The Longhorn Service Agency accepted donations while tabling on Speedway on Tuesday, and will table again Thursday, according to a tweet from SG. Students unable to drop off food at any location can send a direct message to UT’s Longhorn Service Agency on Instagram to figure out an alternative drop off plan. 

Longhorn Athletics Agency co-director Campbell Currah said as of Tuesday, she estimates 400 to 500 items have been donated. 

Currah, an international relations and global studies sophomore, said the competition utilizes the UT and OU rivalry to benefit students in need. It also lines up with the Texas baseball game series against OU that occurred last weekend, which Texas won.

“It’s really cool that we’ve taken that competitive spirit and spun it in a positive direction, because it’s going to help us help other people,” Currah said. 

Longhorn Athletics Agency co-director Connor O’Neill said SG wanted a large part of spirit week to involve charity. 

“Especially after the winter storm, we wanted to make sure that we were helping people that were still feeling the effects,” said O’Neill, a Plan II, French and government senior. “A lot of UT students may not have the food they need, because UT campus is kind of a food desert.”

According to a 2016 article from The Daily Texan, the United States Department of Agriculture classified UT and parts of North Campus and West Campus as food deserts, which are low-income areas where a significant proportion of the population lives far from a supermarket.

O’Neill said SG is hoping to make some sort of competition with OU a permanent part of spirit week in the future.