Montana State University

Record amount of food donated through MSU's annual "Can the Griz" food drive

November 21, 2011 -- Anne Cantrell, MSU News Service


MSU and the Bozeman community rallied for a huge, record-setting victory in the 12th annual "Can the Griz" food drive, raising nearly 58,000 pounds of food, plus more than $31,000 in monetary donations, to help provide food for local individuals and families in need. Photo courtesy of Alexandra Black.   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
msunews@montana.edu
Montana State University and the Bozeman community rallied for a huge, record-setting victory in the 12th annual "Can the Griz" food drive, raising nearly 58,000 pounds of food, plus more than $31,000 in monetary donations, to help provide food for local individuals and families in need.

The donations will be distributed through the Gallatin Valley Food Bank. The University of Montana and Missoula raised 18,963 pounds of food for the Missoula community.

"We are exceptionally grateful about how supportive the Bozeman community has been," said Lori Christenson, program manager at the food bank. "This is a huge success, and we are humbled by it."

Approximately 1,400 families in the community will benefit from the food drive, Christenson said.

She added that the 57, 713 pounds of food raised included approximately 1,300 turkeys. Those turkeys will be the centerpieces of hundreds of emergency Thanksgiving food boxes.

"Before Friday (Nov. 18), when the majority of the donations came in, we had -- maybe -- 150 turkeys. But, we have 1,465 households signed up for an emergency food box for Thanksgiving," Christenson said. "Within one day, we collected what we needed to at least satisfy our Thanksgiving holiday need. We're still collecting more because we distribute to other agencies in our area, too."

"Can the Griz" -- and the corresponding "Can the 'Cats" drive at the University of Montana -- is an off-field competition between MSU and UM to see which university community can raise the most food for its local food bank. Now in its 12th year, the two-week competition coincides each year with the Brawl of the Wild football game and concludes with the game's kick off.

Last year, MSU and the Bozeman community brought in a record-setting 27,234 pounds of food, according to Alexandra Black, MSU Campus Corps team leader and food drive coordinator.

Even though this year's drive resulted in more than double that amount, MSU organizers were concerned late in the competition about being behind last year's record.

"On Friday morning, with just about a day left to go, we were very nervous about our results because we were behind where we were last year at the same time," Black said. "Last year, we had 22,500 pounds the day before the game. This year we were at about 15,000 pounds."

Food drive organizers appealed to the community for a last-minute rally through announcements on local radio stations and the MSU website. And, late collections from approximately 50 drop-off locations, including residence halls and buildings on the MSU campus, as well as multiple businesses and churches in Bozeman, Livingston and Belgrade, helped bolster the totals.

"We were blown away by the generous support," Black said. "Lots of great people and businesses really stepped up and were incredibly supportive. We'd like to thank everyone for their incredible generosity."

Christenson agreed the generosity is inspiring, but she said the success of the drive is bittersweet because of the need it illustrates.

The donations are large enough to fill a semitrailer, and the food bank had to move some of the items to an overflow facility, Christenson said. Still, the food will be distributed "pretty darn quickly."

On average, 5,000 pounds of food -- or 2 tons -- is distributed through the Gallatin Valley Food Bank to individuals and families each day, Christenson said. Each one to two-person household receiving food takes home 55 pounds, on average.

At that rate, it would take just over 15 days for the food to be gone.

But, for the families who will receive it, it is very important, Christenson said.

"It will certainly mean a lot to the people who are going to receive the holiday boxes of food," she said.

For more information about the "Can the Griz" drive and the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, visit http://gallatinvalleyfoodbank.org/.

Contact: Alexandra Black, (406) 994-7571 or teamleader@montana.edu, or Lori Christenson, lori@gallatinvalleyfoodbank.org