IRVING, Texas – UTEP collected more than 26,000 pounds of food during the “Let’s SAAC Hunger” program, the Conference USA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee conference-wide community service initiative. C-USA’s 14 schools amassed a total of 75,082 pounds, which equates to more than 70,000 meals. Nine C-USA schools gathered more than 1,000 pounds of food donations during their respective drive week.
UTEP collected 26,086 pounds of food for the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank.
“Our students worked really hard,” said Nicole Okolo, UTEP Director of Student-Athlete Development. “It was a true collaboration in an effort to raise donations for El Pasoans Fighting Hunger. SAAC was instrumental in disseminating information, and we’re so proud that this victory is reflective of everyone’s hard work. We also want to thank EPFH for being so committed to the cause and recognizing the importance of initiatives such as C-USA’s Let’s SAAC Hunger.”
North Texas, the 2014 SAAC Cup winner, raised the second-highest total with 16,797 pounds of food that was distributed to the Denton Community Food Center, while Middle Tennessee placed third and donated 10,746 pounds of food to the MTSU Student Food Pantry.
UAB posted the best on-line collection of 555 pounds, giving the Blazers nearly 1,000 pounds total for the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama.
Donations were also made to Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina Inc., Boca Helping Hands Inc., Miami Rescue Mission Inc., Christian Community Action, Marshall University Food Pantry, Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, Houston Food Bank, Christian Services, San Antonio Food Bank, WKU Food Pantry and Irving Cares.
Each C-USA school worked within its respective community to conduct a campus-wide canned food drive for one week during the fall semester. C-USA also partnered with YouGiveGoods, a for-profit company that facilitates online food drives. This partnership allowed C-USA student-athletes to reach a much larger audience, encouraging all student groups and alumni to participate. Each institution selected a local food bank to receive its donations.
“It is always a pleasure to partner with Conference USA in support of its annual ‘Let’s SAAC Hunger’ Campaign,” said Michelle Seideneck, Manager of Strategic Partnerships at YouGiveGoods.
“The C-USA team is a high energy, eco-friendly and technology savvy group of student-athletes. They understand how YouGiveGoods helps to enhance their food drive efforts by making it easier, transparent and more successful. We appreciate the tremendous support from the conference office as well as the enthusiasm from each participating member institution this year in utilizing our online drive platform to help reach their goal. I applaud their commitment and dedication to helping those less fortunate in their local communities and I am truly honored to have worked with their incredible organization for the past three years.”
The C-USA SAAC was formed in 1998. Its committee consists of 28 members (two from each institution) with one member serving as chair, two members as vice chair and a secretary that all oversee an external affairs working group, a top issues working group and a student-athlete health and safety committee.
The C-USA SAAC meets four times per year by phone and also holds one in-person meeting each summer.