Fitness challenge kicks off today to aid student hunger

Want to exercise and benefit hungry UC Berkeley students at the same time?

Under Armour, Berkeley’s official outfitting partner, today is launching its Berkeley Miles for Meals challenge: If students, staff, faculty and alumni collectively walk, hike, run, roll or bike 150,000 miles between April 4 and May 3, the global footwear and apparel company will make a $10,000 charitable donation to benefit the UC Berkeley Food Pantry and the Berkeley Student Food Collective.

The goal of 150,000 miles also celebrates the 150th birthday this year of the University of California, and award badges will highlight historical UC milestones.

Faculty, staff, students and alumni who log 30 miles in 30 days will qualify for a a drawing for an Under Armour/UC Berkeley prize pack. (UPP photo by Kush Patel)

“This offer from Under Armour comes at a key time, when our basic needs services are serving record numbers of students. A charitable donation of $10,000 will fund about 600 student meals from the food pantry and 1,200 bags of fresh produce from the food collective,” says Ruben Canedo, chair of the UC Berkeley Basic Needs Committee. “We are deeply grateful for Under Armour’s support and encourage the campus community to join the challenge to help provide for our students’ health, wellness and basic needs.”

Today’s Under Armour Cal Giveback event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Lower Sproul Plaza and includes free 30-minute workouts in kickboxing, yoga, total athletic conditioning and high intensity interval training. Online registration is available for these classes, which have limited slots. Vendors will distribute free food, the Cal Straw Hat Band and other student musical groups will perform and Oski will make an appearance. Additional activities will include a battle between two DJs, free henna tattooing, a special appearance by the Cal Overwatch Team, giveaways and tabling by the food pantry, food collective and Cal Student Store.

Those who attend — and those who can’t, but wish to take part in the month-long Miles for Meals challenge — can sign up through this link. Participants who reach 30 miles in 30 days — between April 4 and May 3 — will qualify for a drawing for an Under Armour and Berkeley prize pack.

“The concept for the fitness challenge was part of Under Armour’s partnership proposal to UC Berkeley,” says Amy Gardner, executive director of Berkeley’s University Partnership Program (UPP), adding that the company “is interested in supporting the campus’s initiatives on health, wellness and food insecurity.”

“The UC Berkeley Food Pantry and Berkeley Student Food Collective are critical resources for students to have access to affordable fresh foods, and that is a cause we absolutely wanted to get behind,” says Suzanne Williams, director of Under Armour collegiate sports marketing. “We saw this as another way of supporting both the campus-wide food security efforts and the greater community.”

Under Armour is working collaboratively with a variety of campus groups, such as the ASUC, Graduate Assembly, Cal Dining, Recreational Sports, University Health Services and UPP, to create and support two fitness and/or nutrition-focused challenges annually over the term of its 10-year partnership with Berkeley.

The first challenge — the Berkeley Active Lifestyle Fitness Challenge — was held last fall. A total of 4,375 workouts were logged, and participants who successfully completed a minimum of 20 workouts over 60 days were invited to a celebration event.

Under Armour’s 10-year agreement with Berkeley, announced in April 2016, is the first outfitting partnership launched by Under Armour that features a comprehensive, campus-wide relationship. Under Armour designs and supplies the footwear, apparel and equipment for the athletic department’s wide range of men’s and women’s sports, but it also connects directly with the broader campus community. Students have access to Under Armour internships and employment opportunities, and the company also provides nutrition and fitness support, collaboration with Berkeley on charitable and philanthropic programs and exclusive product discounts for campus departments.

Additionally, Under Armour has been active in assisting with a variety of campus innovation, research and entrepreneurship initiatives, including Berkeley Law’s 4th annual Law Sports Industry Conference and the Sutardja Center for Technology and Entrepreneurship’s Sports Tech Collider Sprint. Plans to host an Under Armour Future Show Innovation Challenge are in the works for 2019.

UPP, an initiative launched by Berkeley in 2015, strives to build more meaningful campus-wide relationships with business partners by collaborating across units to create opportunities that align with Berkeley’s values and mission of teaching, research and public service. Partners in addition to Under Armour are Bank of the West, Brita and Peet’s Coffee.