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Clemson and South Carolina football fans don’t have to wait until the Nov. 30 annual rivalry game to be part of an important competition.

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The universities are again facing off in the Certified SC Grown Palmetto Series Food Drive in a coordinated effort to benefit Harvest Hope Food Bank and Golden Harvest Food Bank and tackle hunger in the state. The winner will be announced at the Carolina-Clemson game in Columbia on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

“We are proud to champion South Carolina’s farmers who give so much to ensure fresh food for so many, and to join in the fight against hunger in South Carolina,” Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers said.

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The university that raises the most donations in non-perishable foods by Nov. 22 will earn a point for their school toward the 2018-19 Certified SC Grown Palmetto Series standings. Collected food donations between the two schools will be measured in pounds, and money donated will be converted to a number of pounds via an equation used by Harvest Hope and Golden Harvest.

“In times of need, our state always comes together to help our neighbors. The Palmetto Series is a spirited way to provide hope around the dinner table regardless of what team you pull for on the field,” said Wendy Broderick, Harvest Hope Food Bank CEO. “Thousands of South Carolinians will benefit thanks to the generosity of both Gamecock and Tiger fans!”

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In South Carolina, one in six people struggle to find where the next meal will come from, and one in five children will go to bed hungry every night. By participating in the Palmetto Series Food Drive, Gamecock and Tiger fans alike will come together to fight the statewide battle of food insecurities and support Harvest Hope and Golden Harvest.

“Feeding the one in six local families who struggle with hunger starts with strong community support,” said Travis McNeal, Golden Harvest executive director. “We’re so blessed by the generosity we see in the Upstate during this drive each year.”

South Carolina fans are invited to visit https://donate.harvesthope.org to donate online. Clemson can go to https://goldenharvest.org/donate/?oper=donate&freq=once&prog=13.

The food drive puts focus on another issue surrounding hunger in South Carolina. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, S.C. Department of Commerce and S.C. Department of Agriculture are partners in a campaign to reduce the No. 1 item thrown away in the state: wasted food.

Households are responsible for about 43% of all food waste in the U.S. – more than any other part of the food chain. Each of us throws away about 20 pounds of food per month – or an estimated 240 pounds per year.

When we throw away food, we also waste money – about $1,800 per year for a family of four – and the labor, water, energy and fuel used to produce, package and transport food from the farm to our plates.

Don't Waste Food S.C. is aimed at educating and empowering individuals, businesses and communities to take action by preventing, composting or donating surplus food. The campaign is working toward a goal of reducing food waste in the state by 50% by 2030.

The partners are working together to connect food surpluses to those in need, enhance infrastructure for composting and educate consumers, communities and businesses about what they can do to join the initiative.

By taking part in both the competitive food drive and the don’t-waste-food effort, the people of the state can fight hunger and help their neighbors. And that is something about which Clemson and Carolina fans can agree.

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