Watermelon Bust yields 14,662 pounds of food

By Geoff Smith
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 2, 1996

Mounds of cans and watermelon seeds are all that remain from Lambda Chi Alpha's annual Watermelon Bust Saturday.

The Watermelon Bust -Arizona's largest Greek-sponsored philanthropy - is a food drive held by the Zeta-Beta chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha International Fraternity.

The week-long event, now in its 11th year on the University of Arizona campus, is a competition among the pledges of UA sororities to see which house can raise the most food. Participants distributed collection bags to about 6,000 Tucson residents, and food was later collected at the Lambda Chi Alpha house, 1402 N. Vine Ave.

John Thompson, president of Lambda Chi Alpha's UA chapter, said that this year's food drive raised 14,662 pounds of food and $450 for the Tucson Community Food Bank.

"This is the largest Greek-sponsored philanthropy in the state of Arizona," Thompson said. "That includes not only the UA, but Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University too."

He said that this designation was based on the number of service hours involved and the large amount of food and money that was raised. Thompson said more than 500 UA Greeks contributed over 6,500 hours to the food drive.

Gretchen Termini, Tucson Community Food Bank spokeswoman, said the food bank is in most need during the summer because of greater demands during the summer months.

"When the children are home from school all summer their families are having to provide all of their meals at home," she said. "The kids are not getting their lunches provided by the schools like they would during the school year."

Termini said this puts strain on the food bank's resources.

"By August we are usually running very low," she said. "What we can't get in donations we have to buy ourselves."

September and October are the months the food bank recoups from its summer strain. Termini said the Watermelon Bust comes at a very good time of the year.

"We wish more groups would remember us in the summer," Termini said. "We get lots of help around the holidays, but those are not the only times of the year that people are in need."

Termini said the Watermelon Bust had doubled in size this year. Last year, the project raised 7,250 pounds of food.

"We really appreciate it," she said.

The competition between the sororities ended Saturday with a watermelon Olympics designed to bring the sororities together and build Greek spirit.

Pi Beta Phi sorority won the competition for donating the most canned food. The sorority contributed 4,632 pounds of food to the drive. Chi Omega sorority won the overall title for the Watermelon Bust. The title was based on points for spirit and the Olympic events. Each sorority won a trophy for its efforts.

The UA Zeta-Beta chapter's food drive, Thompson said, is part of a larger one held annually by the Lambda Chi Alpha International Fraternity. Over 230 chapters in the United States and Canada raise between 500,000 and 600,000 pounds of food annually. Assuming that most canned foods weigh about 12 ounces, the fraternity collects over 666,000 cans of food nationally each year.