KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — There was no hiding the excitement on the faces of the Maroon Giant students and leaders when they learned they had become the 2023 Frenzy Food Drive champions.

It was a goal Kalamazoo Central High School had strategically planned out. They not only shattered the record for pounds donated in the food drive, but all expectations and helped the 2023 Frenzy Food Drive bring in 57,341 pounds in nine weeks.

“This is a demonstration of this community, not only Kalamazoo Central, but Kalamazoo. They rallied behind us,” Valerie Boggan, KC Central principal, said. “We said, ‘Hey we need your help.’ They said, ‘We got you.’ And they did like they showed up in groves. It was beyond our expectations. Now, you know, we like to win, so you put together a winning team, and winning happens.”

They didn’t just win, KCHS ran away with this year’s title, donating 27,386 pounds to Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes. They beat second place by more than double and set a mark that will take a giant effort to beat.

“I couldn’t be more proud. I’ve been here for 19 years, and I always think that we may have just done the best thing that I’ve ever seen. But then every year, the group of kids just step up and do something that seems extraordinary, seems impossible to do,” Rex Hafer, KCHS teacher who helped organize the food drive, said. “For any school to collect any amount of food like that in three days, everybody should be proud. And I couldn’t be more proud of our school community.”

After Forest Hills Northern shattered the previous top mark in the Frenzy Food Drive, donating 12,283 pounds in week two of the season, the Maroon Giants leaders got together to calculate a plan to top that mark, their competitive edge was all over their faces and the response from their students was remarkable.

“What it shows our students is, look at what you did in a short period of time,” Boggan said. “When you put your mind to it, all things are possible.”

“We can walk away and say we helped somebody’s family or we helped one of our classmates. That’s what’s really great about the Football Frenzy and giving back to Loaves and Fishes directly,” Marion Finjap, KCHS senior, said.

The nine-week season was an overwhelming success at fighting hunger throughout West Michigan. In total, the schools combined for 57,341 pounds of food donated to local pantries that continue to face rising needs and decreasing resources.

“It takes the whole community to be able to end hunger if we want to be able to end food insecurity for everybody in our community. And seeing students start at a young age and how dedicated they are to showing up every single week to changing the lives of the people around them by giving them the food that they really need to thrive, it just means a lot,” Kelly Ritsema from Feeding America West Michigan said. “Making an impact at such a young age is so huge.”

Here are the nine-week totals from the 2023 Frenzy Food Drive:

  • Kalamazoo Central: 27,386 pounds
  • Forest Hills Northern: 12,283 pounds
  • Hopkins: 6,663 pounds
  • West Catholic: 4,001 pounds
  • Greenville: 2,301 pounds
  • Holland: 1,705 pounds
  • Jenison: 1,402 pounds
  • Muskegon Oakridge: 1,278 pounds
  • Kelloggsville: 322 pounds

In three seasons, the Frenzy Food Drive has collected 87,376 pounds of food to fight hunger throughout West Michigan.