Can the Griz: More than a competition

For the first time in its fourteen-year history, MSU may be on course to lose the annual the Cat/Griz food drive competition.

Started in 1999, the friendly competition has gradually escalated each year to astounding results. Last year MSU and the Bozeman community collected 68,515 pounds of food and raised roughly $29,000 in cash for the Gallatin Valley Food Bank; UM and Missoula collected 29,025 pounds of food and $28,968 in donations. .

According to Missoula’s Food Bank, this year, Missoula has jumped ahead early, receiving an incredible six tons of potatoes from a local Chevrolet dealer and several large bins of winter squash from a Toyota dealer.

Bozeman, however, has struggled to bring in donations this year. For example, as reported in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the Food Bank expects to deliver 1,600 turkey dinners on Thanksgiving but, as of Monday, only 238 turkeys had been donated.

The tragedy of this lack of participation is not just losing the competition to Missoula. The goals and ambitions of the food drive transcend rivalry between two universities. The ultimate beneficiary of this drive is the community itself and, if Bozeman loses, the real loss is suffered by the numerous Bozeman community members who depend on the Food Bank.

Each year, one in seven Gallatin County residents utilizes the Food Bank. Accordingly, each month, it services 1,200 to 1,500 households, reaching a total of about 3,000 Gallatin Valley residents. According to Gallatin Valley Food Bank Operations Manager Jill Holder, the donations from the food drive should provide them enough food boxes for a month of operating.

Clearly, hunger and need in our community are not isolated problems, and something we can not chose to hide or ignore. This especially is not something that can afford to suffer an off year or fall victim to the social and political apathy that so often plagues our community.

In only acknowledging the importance of donating food, time, money and effort once a year during a competition, the overwhelming importance of the donations risks being dumbed-down and the community largely made numb to the true impacts.

On a whole, our community deserves to demand more of itself.

We deserve a community who can get excited about the food drive despite the fact that our football team is not doing well this season. We deserve a community who can rise above the political and social apathy, and realize that this is the simplest way to make a difference.  And we deserve a community that springs at any opportunity to help its members.

In the end, it can not (and should not) be dictated if, or for what reason, people choose to donate. Whether it is to win a competition, to help others share in the holiday festivities, or simply because it is the right thing to do: whatever the motivation behind it — please give. Donate what you can; time, money, food or effort. Donate this weekend and donate whenever you can. There are few things more important.

Food donations can be dropped off at yellow-box locations around campus, at the Cat/Griz football game and at The Gallatin Valley Food Bank at 602 Bond St.