KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — As Kalamazoo Central High School students formed a line Friday morning to move tons of food from the football field to the parking lot and into the truck from Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes, it quickly became clear to the food bank’s associate director that that they were going to need a second truck.
Kalamazoo Central students had collected a staggering 27,386 pounds of food. Last year, the Frenzy Food Drive collected 16,461 pounds over the course of the entire high school football season.
“I was really surprised. I mean, we’ve done a lot of food drives and worked with a lot of people on food drives and it can be really tough to just mobilize and get something together,” Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes associate director Greta Faworski said. “But within just a few days, it was just a tremendous.”
By the time the second truck arrived, the school’s first period had started. National Honors Society adviser Rex Haffer, who also led the efforts for the Maroon Giants with the food drive, kept his kids back to help load the truck. It was their lesson for the day: actively helping their community.
“I think it’s the best group of kids you’re going to find anywhere in Southwest Michigan,” Haffer said. “I know every teacher feels that way but these kids just always do above and beyond what we expect out of them.”
At the beginning of the week, Haffer and the Principal Valerie Boggan created a strategy to try and knock off Forest Hills Northern, which held the Frenzy Food Drive record. Forest Hills Northern set the mark this year in week 2 by donating 12,283 pounds.
Haffer and Boggans’ competitiveness is worn on the sleeves of their students.
“They put their mind to something and they know that they care about the community enough to really show up and show out. And even with that big of a number that they heard, they said, ‘We’ve got this,'” Haffer said of the students. “They always just put their money where their mouth is and they show up like they did today.”
All of the food will be given donated to Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes. It helps feed the greater Kalamazoo area and houses 12 pantries within Kalamazoo Public Schools, including Central High School. Local demand has risen 60% from this time last year and food expenses have gone from $800,000 a year to $1.8 million.
“This is wonderful because it’s kind of unexpected,” Faworski said. “We know there’s certain times where we have big food drives but this is kind of at a time when maybe we would start purchasing food again before the holidays and so to have this extra bump is really great. It’ll really help us defray some costs.”
This year, the Frenzy Food Drive has collected and distributed 42,292 pounds of food to four local districts — and it’s only four weeks into a nine-week season.