Jan. 12, 2012
IRVING, Texas - Southern Miss student-athletes donated over 8,000 pounds of food to local food banks to knock out hunger over the holiday season during the "Let's SAAC Hunger" program, the Conference USA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee conference-wide community service initiative, and earned second place in the 2011 SAAC Cup.
The Golden Eagles, the 2010 SAAC Cup winner, raised the second-highest total with 8,469 pounds of food that was distributed by local Hattiesburg, Miss., food banks.
The University of Houston won the 2011 C-USA SAAC Cup, given annually to the institution collecting the most food by weight, collected 22,448 pounds of food for the Star of Hope organization that has focused its resources toward providing for the city's homeless for more than 100 years. It was the largest total collected since the Let's SAAC Hunger program began in 2008. Eight C-USA schools collected more than 2,000 pounds of food donations during their drive week.
Each C-USA school worked within their respective communities to conduct a campus-wide canned food drive for one week during the fall semester. All student groups and alumni were encouraged to participate. For its C-USA SAAC Cup entry, each institution selected a local food bank to receive their donations.
More than 30 tons of food totaling 60,752.14 pounds, which equates to more than 55,000 meals, was collected conference-wide.
Tulane placed third and donated 7,675 pounds of food to the Second Harvest Food Bank. UTEP made use of a week's schedule of athletic events to gather 6,522 pounds of food for the West Texas Food Bank by allowing fans free admission to the women's soccer and volleyball matches with a donation. Additionally, all proceeds from the sale of "50/50" raffle tickets at the October 29 football game against Southern Miss were donated to the SAAC Hunger Drive relief fund and student-athletes went "trick-or-treating" seeking non-perishable items.
The University of Memphis donated 4,941 pounds of food to the Mid-South Food Bank in Memphis, Tenn. The Mid-South Food Bank manages a warehouse distribution center with food for agencies, the kids café program which provides food for kids in a restaurant-atmosphere in their neighborhoods and food for kids backpack program that allows children to go home with a backpack filled with nutritional food on the weekends.
Rice University collected 3,247.42 pounds of food for the Houston Food Bank after combining its efforts with fall homecoming activities surrounding the football game against UTEP and by offering donors free tickets to men's and women's basketball or volleyball games.
SMU gathered 2,864.72 pounds of food for the North Texas Food Bank while East Carolina brought in 2,029 pounds of food for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina which strives to help more than 400,000 people who struggle in the 34-county service area.
UCF accounted for 1,845 pounds of food for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, while Marshall, Tulsa and UAB tallied more than 800 pounds of food for local food banks.
The C-USA SAAC was formed in 1998. Its committee consists of 12 members (one from each institution) with one member serving as chair and one member as vice chair. The committee meets five times a year, including one in-person meeting.