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The Heart of Nashua with Joan Stylianos: Football rivalry fuels drive for NH Food Bank

October 10. 2018 9:30PM

It’s that time of year when fall and football come together. I’m sure you have special memories as a child either playing the sport or attending games in the cool crisp air.

For me, it all began at Cowell Stadium in Durham (renamed Wildcat Stadium). My dad would sometimes drive us from Nashua to a Saturday afternoon UNH game, and we’d stop first at the iconic Dairy Bar at the old train station on the campus. Those were the days when you could order an ice cream and practically get a quart scoop of it sitting precariously atop a sugar cone for next to nothing.

He would buy us hamburgers from the Dairy Bar to take to the bleachers. I remember clearly they came tucked in wax paper sandwich bags. And the burgers were bunless and instead assembled between sliced white toasted bread. I can’t remember if melted cheese was part of the sandwich, but they were greasy-yummy.

For a young child sitting in the center of a massive crowd of some 6,000 cheering fans, it became an indelible memory. It sounds crazy, but I chose to go to UNH after high school because of those autumn trips and that idyllic campus atmosphere.

Today, football is still a big deal, especially at the high school level. And there’s something else making the games that more meaningful here in Nashua and across the state.

Young people are often accused of being selfish, immature and lazy. But when you look at the generosity of the students, parents and fans these days, they’ve created a remarkable program that’s doing a lot of good. The students, especially, should feel proud of this wonderful initiative serving multiple communities.

“NH Tackles Hunger” is now in its sixth year and going strong. It might seem like a simple concept of bringing a non-perishable item to a football game, but the NH Food Bank says these cans and boxes of food go a long way to help stock our local food pantries.

Best of all, every item of food collected stays in the community and goes to feed students at the participating schools across the state. Dead River Company and Hannaford supermarkets have also donated generously to the campaign this season.

Many of us have it easy; we go to the fridge or cupboard, and something’s there to eat. We forget that others in the Gate City are struggling and hungry. And with donations to the NH Food Bank and other charities on the decline in the last few years, the need is far greater.

At the Sept. 28 game between Nashua South and Nashua North played at Stellos Stadium, a large double collection took place with both high schools taking part. The “Battle of the Bridge” rivalry between the schools is fierce, but when it comes to giving back, both South and North set aside their competitiveness and understand the common mission of helping others.

And there are more Nashua area games on the October calendar for participating in the program.

Fans are asked to bring food items like peanut butter, jelly, tuna, canned fruits and vegetables, soups and pasta.

So far, more than 45,000 pounds of food has been collected this season.

The Manchester-based NH Food Bank also takes cash donations. “For every dollar donated, the NH Food Bank can provide 2 meals.”

For more information, call 669-9725 or go to

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at

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