SDSU wins food fight for fourth straight year

South Dakota State University claimed its fourth consecutive and fifth overall Summit League Food Fight title this year.

SDSU won this year’s contest after collecting 39,047.20 pounds of food, increasing its total from last year by more than 4,300 pounds. This total is the all-time record collected by a single school during the food drive, said Jennie Sell, assistant athletic director for academics and SDSU SAAC leader.

The non-perishable food drive is organized by the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and takes place each year, giving all nine Summit League schools the opportunity to compete to see who can raise the most food in terms of pounds to support their local food pantries. Schools collect canned goods as well as cash, with $5 donations equaling 13 pounds of food.

 “The Food Fight is one of the most important things that SAAC does,” Logan Doyle, a SAAC representative for the SDSU men’s basketball team, said. “This community has given us so much as student athletes, so we feel that it is important to give back to them.”

SDSU has done well in the competition since it began in 2009, winning in 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2015 as well as taking home the Food Fight trophy again for 2016.

The Jackrabbits set the previous record last year after collecting 34,681 pounds. This total was more than all other Summit League schools combined.

The University of South Dakota came in second in this year’s contest with 14,354.5 pounds, and the University of Denver finished third with 12,713 pounds, according to the Summit League website. Overall, the Summit League combined to raise over 116,700 pounds of food, about 32,000 pounds more than last year. 

This year, SDSU collected food during a two-week time span at eight Jackrabbit home athletic events, including basketball, track, wrestling and equestrian. SDSU also partnered with various Brookings companies, such as Cubby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Hy-Vee, the Brookings Police Department, SDSU University Police Department and a few churches to further promote the Food Fight and give community members another opportunity to donate.

All food collected by SDSU supports the Brookings County Emergency Food Pantry. The food is distributed to Brookings community members who cannot afford food for reasons such as a recent job loss or having a fixed income.

Amy Lacek, manager of the Food Pantry says, that all donations, especially the ones from the Food Fight, are essential in helping to support community members in need.

“We rely 100 percent on donations and need them to stay open,” Lacek said. “Food can go quickly, and we help over 500 families a year, so donations are important. But we are very fortunate because Brookings is a giving community. Brookings supports.”

Sell agreed with Lacek and said the Brookings community plays a big role in SDSU’s success in the Food Fight.

“The X-factor in this competition is the generosity of the community,” Sell said. “The Brookings community is strong in community service anyway, but fans are familiar with the Food Fight and give at every game.”

Though Sell is pleased with the win, she said that no matter what the outcome would have been, she’s glad to be a part of a good cause.

“The whole thing is a win-win situation,” Sell said. “It’s fun to compete, but in the end, each school is helping their community and that’s what matters.”