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Miami and UC go beyond the ball with week-long food race

At the University of Cincinnati, students are doing more than just donating cans. This week UC students covered the above car in Miami RedHawk logos before taking turns at it with a mallet.

Contributed by Jay Piggot

By Greta Morris, For The Miami Student

This Saturday's football game against the University of Cincinnati is providing more than just entertainment. The MU vs. UC Food Race aims to provide 30,000 meals to the local community.

"It's the Miami versus UC game, but at the end of the day it's all about fighting hunger in our local community," Brent Bielinski, co-founder and CEO of NomNom Nation, said.

NomNom Nation was created in 2012 by Bielinski and Chelsea Nauman, both Miami graduates.

The idea originally began as an entry in Miami University's First Annual Start-Up Weekend. NomNom won the competition and has continued to fight hunger ever since.

The Food Race, which officially began Saturday, Sept.13, is taking a new, digital approach. Donations can be made via cell phones using NomNom Nation's mobile app.

"We wanted to make it really easy for somebody to make a donation right from their phone," Bielinski said. "Not everybody wants to carry eight cans of food with them across a big parking lot, and with our generation we don't carry much cash with us, if at all."

NomNom encourages monetary donations rather than physical donations.

Every dollar donated using NomNom can produce three to seven meals for those in need by food banks.

All proceeds raised during the food race will go to Share Harvest Foodbank in Fairfield and Freestore Foodbank in Cincinnati, both serving Southwest Ohio.

Kurt Reiber, president and CEO of Freestore Foodbank, said he hopes that along with raising money, they raise awareness.

"We can raise a little bit of awareness from everyone's point of view as far as the impact of hunger in our community," Reiber said. "Many people are not aware of it."

In the Cincinnati area, there are 300,000 food-insecure individuals, 100,000 of whom are children, according to Reiber.

Nationally, Cincinnati ranks second in childhood poverty.

For students, the food race allows for an opportunity to get involved in their community and help fight hunger, an idea Bielinski hopes students embrace.

"I hope the students really get behind this first Food Race event," Bielinski said. "I think it's important that community engagement is a part of love and honor and the motto and meaning for why we go to Miami University. I'm partial to Miami winning, but I'd love to see the student body getting involved and winning this food race."

The historic rivalry between Miami University and the University of Cincinnati is also being used to increase donations. The food race was strategically placed during the MU vs. UC game to incorporate competitive edge between the two schools and encourage more students to participate.

Canned food and monetary donations can also be donated in person at Saturday's game at Paul Brown Stadium.

The total amount of food collected and the winner of the food race will be announced between the third and fourth quarters of Saturday's game.

Digital donations can be made at or by downloading the mobile app, NomNom.