The annual Can the Cats food drive competition leading up to the Brawl of the Wild football game will contribute to the University’s food pantry this year. 

This year marks the 20-year anniversary of the Can the Cats competition against Bozeman’s Gallatin Valley Food Bank. In 2018, the Missoula community raised almost 405,000 pounds of food, but lost against Bozeman’s collection of almost 450,000. The competition this year will run from Nov. 9 to Nov. 23, and the winner will be announced at half time during the Griz-Cat football game. The Missoula Food Bank’s goal this year is to raise 406,000 pounds of food. 

“There are no losers in this,” said Missoula Food Bank executive director Aaron Brock. “We truly are supportive of the work they [the Gallatin Valley Food Bank] do. They meet a profound need in their community, just as I think we meet one in ours. But we also really want to win.” 

Wiggins_FoodPantryCantheCats.JPG

The University of Montana Food Pantry, located on the ground floor of the University Center The annual Can the Cats canned food drive will take place at the University of Montana right before the Brawl of the Wild football matchup.

The UM Food Pantry opened in February 2019, making this the first year it can participate in Can the Cats. Kat Cowley, who runs the pantry and is on the food bank’s board of directors, said she will be organizing the volunteer effort to collect food at the last home football game versus Weber State on Nov. 16. All food and money donations collected at the stadium entrances will count toward the competition, but will stay in the UM Food Pantry.

Cowley said UM’s campus has a 42% food insecurity, slightly higher than the 33% of college students nationally. Cowley helped organize the pantry in February as a place on campus for students to get food. She said the pantry typically serves 20 to 25 students a month. She also said the food pantry will also have a basket outside its door in the UC for collections during Can the Cats. 

“It’s not hyperbole to say there are literally hundreds of groups that get together ... as a part of this,” Brock said. “I think that our community recognizes there’s a need. There are a lot of our neighbors who sometimes might need a little bit of additional support from the food bank.”

For the Nov. 14 Griz volleyball game, Nov. 18 Griz men’s basketball game and Nov. 19 Lady Griz basketball game, fans can bring five cans of food for free admission to the games.

There are many other drop-off locations at UM: the President’s Office, Provost’s Office, Brantly Hall, UM Foundation, Main Hall, Alexander Blewett III School of Law, W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, the Adams Center, the Corner Store, the Market, McGill Hall, the Law School, College of Business, Curry Health Center, UM Fraternity and Sorority Office, and the Undergraduate Advising Center. 

Brock said this is the biggest food drive of the year for the food bank. He said even if they don’t win, it still greatly fills up their warehouse for the holiday season and the next year. 

For more donation locations and events, visit the Missoula Food Bank website.

Wiggins_FoodPantryCantheCats-2.JPG

Shelves in the University Center Food Pantry are lined with non-perishable goods, including canned goods. The annual Can the Cats canned food drive will take place at the University of Montana right before the Brawl of the Wild football matchup.