This fall marks the third year Feeding America West Michigan has partnered with WOOD TV8 to put together the Football Frenzy Food Drives!
When high school football season rolls around, it’s also time for schools across West Michigan to come together and take action to help end hunger by hosting a food drive. Each week a different school is tasked with raising as much food as possible to help neighbors experiencing hunger in their local communities. So, over the course of the last 9 weeks, 9 schools (8 of which are in our service area) were in competition with each other to see who could collect the most pounds of food.
Casey Jones, WOOD TV8’s Director of Community Affairs, helped create the Frenzy Food Drives. When asked what sparked the idea, he said, “We recognized the food scarcity concerns in our community. We knew that we could supercharge our Frenzy coverage and use football as a catalyst for community helping community.”
The food drives this year were some of the largest ones yet, and Casey said, “This is such a critical portion of our Frenzy umbrella because it gets young people involved in being a part of the difference. They can tangibly see how their actions are tipping the scales for their neighbors in need. What I think has become so exciting to watch is the competition! While we pit nine schools against each other to out donate the others, what really ends up happening is all nine schools come together in unity to compete against hunger. We all win that way!”
Throughout the season, hundreds of students showed up early in the mornings bearing cans, boxes, bottles and jars of shelf-stable items ready to be given to those in their community facing food insecurity. The food bank paired each school with one of our local partner food pantries to receive the food donated, and so many of the pantries were blown away by the amount of food given to them by the students.
Without further ado, here’s the final breakdown of the schools and their donations:
Kalamazoo Central: 27,386 pounds to Loaves and Fishes
Forest Hills Northern: 12,283 pounds to Calvary Undenominational
Hopkins: 6,663 pounds to Project Hope
West Catholic: 4,001 pounds to St. Alphonsus
Greenville: 2,301 pounds to City Church Greenville/Local Impact
Holland: 1,705 pounds to St. Vincent de Paul Holland
Jenison: 1,402 pounds to Jenison Bible
Muskegon Oakridge: 1,278 pounds to Wolf Lake
Kelloggsville: 322 pounds to Family Network
Adding this all together, the total pounds of food donated was over 57,000—meaning over 47,000 meals were provided to neighbors experiencing hunger in West Michigan!
Forest Hills Northern came in strong early on by breaking the record from 2022, and brought in the highest amount of donations for the schools in our service area! Kalamazoo Central then rallied together to raise over double that amount, and is the Frenzy Food Drive winner for 2023!
Students from every school shared with us why they decided to take action, and the underlying theme to every response was that they care deeply about their community and that they understand how important it is for people to have the food they need to thrive.
Two students from Forest Hills Northern went above and beyond to show up and make a difference.
Once they heard about the food drive taking place, they said, “We realized this was a chance to help out our community and give back to people who really need [food].”
Without thinking twice about it, they went out and bought 2,000 pounds of canned goods and water.
When asked what motivated them in their decision to donate that much, one of them said, “A big piece of it was how we could help other families that have struggled to get water and food. We got things that they can eat that will stay good for a while, too.”
The other student said, “We have water and food at home, and a lot of families don’t always have that. It’s our way of giving back to the community.”
We are so proud of our community of students for showing up every week ready to change lives through meals! Thank you West Michigan students and WOOD TV8, for joining us in working together to end hunger.