MISSOULA – Before their football teams clash in the state’s biggest game of the year, the University of Montana in Missoula and Montana State University in Bozeman once again will compete in a food drive to support those facing food insecurity during this holiday season.
Now in its 24th year, the Can the Cats Food Drive launches Saturday, Nov. 4. The event is sponsored by UM and Missoula Food Bank & Community Center. It encourages Missoulians and others to donate food and cash until the Griz-Cat Brawl of the Wild game on Saturday, Nov. 18, in Missoula, when the food drive winner will be announced.
“The Can the Cats Food Drive is an important annual tradition where the entire Missoula community joins together to support those in need,” UM President Seth Bodnar said. “This isn’t just a UM event, and we are grateful for all the local businesses, organizations and individuals that participate.”
Food collected will benefit both the campus and community food pantries. Cash donations also are welcome. These efforts will boost the UM Food Pantry’s work to support students experiencing food insecurity, as well as Missoula Food Bank & Community Center efforts to support the thousands of Missoula County households working hard to make sure their families have enough to eat during the holidays.
“The food and money raised during Can the Cats comes at a critical time in our community,” said Amy Allison Thompson, executive director of Missoula Food Bank. “Last year we served one in five people in Missoula County. During the holiday season, families all over Missoula are stretching every dollar they have to meet their family’s needs. By donating during Can the Cats, you can make sure all families have enough to eat.”
This year Missoula Food Pantry, the UM Pantry and other community partners hope to Can the Cats with a donation goal of 500,000 pounds. Title sponsors are Clearwater Credit Union and the Advocates Injury Attorneys.
Allison Thompson said financial donations count, too. Every $1 donated equates to a pound of food. All donations collected in the Missoula area during the drive stay local. More information about Can the Cats, including participating businesses, drop-off locations, events and volunteer opportunities, is available online at www.canthecats.com.
“We need everyone to help us can those Cats!” said Kat Cowley, who directs the Associated Students of UM Bear Necessities and the UM Food Pantry. “The benefits of this yearly competition cannot be overstated. Every year Can the Cats provides local food banks and pantries with increased abundance. Last year, the UM and Missoula communities donated 450,000 pounds.”
Some key events with Can the Cats include:
- Food Drive Kickoff, 5-6:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Bring your food donations to the game against Sacrament State and donate food at every stadium entrance. Learn more: https://grizhub.umt.edu/event/9507574.
- Griz Student Athletes Tailgate, 5-7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6, Missoula Scheels store, 2901 Brooks St. Grab some exclusive UM swag, meet student-athletes, take photos with Monte and more. Learn more: https://grizhub.umt.edu/event/9550006.
- Stuff the Bus, 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12, Orange Street Food Farm. Join the UM Admissions team to raise food and funds for Can the Cats while sipping hot chocolate, visiting and grabbing some swag. Learn more: https://grizhub.umt.edu/event/9549904.
- Esports: Smash Ultimate Doubles Tournament, 5-7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, Esports Arena. Partner up with a fellow gamer, strategize your moves and enter the battlefield for an evening of intense action. https://grizhub.umt.edu/event/9500189.
Beyond canned goods and donations for food, UM and MSU also want your blood. Montana’s two flagship universities will compete in a “Blood Battle” to see who gives the most life-saving blood. The Missoula portion of the blood drive runs through Nov. 13, and gift prizes are possible.
Schedule your appointment by calling 1-800-RED CROSS, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or using the Blood Donor App. The sponsor code is GRIZCATCHALLENGE. The scheduled donation times are:
- 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6, UM Todd Building Room 204.
- 10:30 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, UM Todd Building Room 204.
- 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, American Red Cross, 2401 N. Reserve St. Suite 6-7.
- Noon to 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13, Southgate Mall, 2901 Brooks St.
Contact: Kat Cowley, director, UM Bear Necessities, 406-243-2017, firstname.lastname@example.org; Jesse Jaeger, director of development, Missoula Food Bank & Community Center, 406-541-0766, email@example.com.