EUGENE – The 44,129 fans on hand to witness the University of Oregon’s football Spring Game Saturday did not signify the only record established in Autzen Stadium last weekend as Mighty Oregon outlasted the Fighting Ducks in the spring’s last of 15 practices, 41-14.
While admission for the intrasquad scrimmage required a donation of three non-perishable food items that would be forwarded to FOOD for Lane County, the results netted 72,537 pounds of food and $1,192.59 donated to the local food bank. That compares to an accumulation in excess of 68,000 pounds of food and approximately $1,200 from last year’s previous record-crowd of 43,468 fans.
Alicia Hines, food resource developer for FOOD for Lane County, estimated that the proceeds collected from the Spring Game would enable the food bank to provide 60,248 meals for those in need. It also is reportedly a record for food donations to the local agency in a three-hour span.
“We are appreciative to the University of Oregon for continuing to allow us to use food donations as admission to the Spring Game,” Hines said. “It is a very powerful experience to watch over 70,000 pounds of food donations accumulated in just a few short hours, knowing all of the struggling families that will be able to benefit from this food.”
Hines added that this event has evolved to become the agency’s second-largest annual source of food donations, trailing only the U.S. Postal system’s Letter Carrier’s food drive which takes place twice a year.
The University of Oregon donated more than 600,000 pounds of perishable and non-perishable food to FOOD for Lane County during the past calendar year, according to Deb McGeorge, food resource manager for the local food bank, with much of the donations coming from athletic department venues, surplus foods not used to feed University student-athletes, banquets, concessions, dorms and EMU food outlets.
In addition to food collected at the Ducks’ annual Spring Game, food drives have been incorporated into events at Matthew Knight Arena in addition to free general admission tickets donated to the food rescue program to be distributed to low income and homeless members of the community who might not have been otherwise able to attend.