Penn State wins Tackle Hunger Challenge against Ohio State

November 24, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — More than 10,000 Penn State alumni and friends rallied together last week to beat Ohio State in the Tackle Hunger Giving Challenge — and to raise $213,830 for students facing food insecurity.

“I’m thrilled that we won the challenge,” said Jenny Daigle Benoit, executive director of annual giving at Penn State. “It’s a demonstration of Penn Staters’ passion and pride, but most importantly, it’s a chance to support students facing personal obstacles.”

The Tackle Hunger Giving Challenge ran from midnight on Nov. 17 through 11:59 pm on Nov. 23, and put Penn State and Ohio State in a head-to-head competition to raise money for each school’s respective campus food pantries and food insecurity programs, which support students who lack access to a nutritious and affordable diet. Penn State won the challenge by capturing the greatest number of $5 gifts. 

A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office suggests that over a third of college students in the U.S. are experiencing food insecurity. These numbers are likely influenced by changing demographics on college campuses, where 39% of students have household income at or below 130% of the federal poverty line, and half of students report being financially independent from parents or family members. The report also notes that current food insecurity statistics may not reflect the full breadth of the issue, as many students are ashamed to admit they need assistance or are unaware of the pantries and food programs that exist on their campuses. 

“The outpouring of support for our students last week was incredible,” said Rich Bundy, vice president for development and alumni relations at Penn State. “The money we raised will help students across the University, and I hope the increased awareness will encourage more students to visit their campus pantries and get the resources they need and deserve.” 

Penn State’s Center for Character, Conscience and Public Purpose will distribute the money raised during the challenge to food pantries and food insecurity programs at Penn State campuses across the Commonwealth, based on percentage of student use. Every $5 gift to a campus pantry or food insecurity program provides 20 to 25 meals or may be used to help stock pantries with other basic need items like toiletries and paper products.

“Our success in the challenge certainly reflects the impact that is possible when the Penn State community comes together,” Bundy said. “Over 10,000 alumni, parents, students and friends gave to this effort, and the average gift was $25. Together, we have accomplished something remarkable.”

Gifts made to the Tackle Hunger Giving Challenge will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit

Last Updated November 24, 2019