After last year’s Student Hunger Drive raised a record 734,781 meals, the Quad Cities event will return this year on Monday, Oct. 3, concluding Nov. 10.

QC high school students celebrate the end of the 2021 Student Hunger Drive.

This year, with fewer food donations from USDA programs and manufacturers/distributors and increased costs for families, the Student Hunger Drive is “paramount to increasing the Food Bank’s supplies and varieties of food to distribute to community members in need,” according to a Tuesday release from River Bend Food Bank.

Since 1985, the Student Hunger Drive’s six-week “friendly competition” among area high schools has provided over 16 million meals to children and adults facing hunger in River Bend Food Bank’s 23-county service area.

Last year, Quad Cities high school students collected a record 734,781 meals in the Student Hunger Drive, for the River Bend Food Bank’s 23-county service area.

This year, students from 15 area high schools will participate in the food and funds drive, which will engage them in meeting a crucial community need while introducing them to service and philanthropy, the release says.

In the Hunger Drive, students plan and execute their own food and funds drives. They set goals for their school while “competing” with other area schools for the honor of being named top fundraisers in their school’s division. During this hands-on, leadership development experience, students receive education on hunger, learn about volunteerism, and work with the Food Bank and their neighborhood elementary and middle schools to organize their school’s drive.

According to the most recent data through Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap Study, hunger continues to be a prevalent issue that requires a community-wide response.

In 2021, an estimated 53 million people (down from 2020’s estimate of 60 million, but still up over 30% from 2019) accessed food assistance programs across the U.S., showing that the work of food banks and local food pantries was and continues to be essential to prevent devastating food insecurity during this time of high inflation and economic instability.

Jenny Colvin, chief development officer at River Bend Food Bank.

“The Student Hunger Drive is a unique fundraiser in the Quad Cities,” said Jenny Colvin, chief development officer at River Bend Food Bank. “Getting students involved helps bring hunger education and awareness to the next generation of community leaders and helps bring in a variety of foods for people in need. At a time when the Food Bank is working harder to keep our shelves stocked for our pantries, the Student Hunger Drive is a great support.”

How the Hunger Drive works

From Oct. 3 to Nov. 10, students collect items in their neighborhoods and at their schools, holding special school events and challenges to collect monetary and food donations. Students package the collected food and deliver it to River Bend Food Bank’s Davenport warehouse at the end of the competition.

QC students celebrated the end of the 2021 Student Hunger Drive last November at River Bend Food Bank, Davenport.

Amounts are totaled and winning schools receive awards for 1st or 2nd place in their division, along with an award for the Mission Challenge Winner – the school that best exemplifies the mission of River Bend Food Bank. Students focus on not only collecting the most food but food that is nutritious and able to be used by their classmates who may be experiencing hunger.

Key dates are:

  • Monday, Oct. 3rd – Kick-Off Party, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., River Bend Food Bank, 4010 Kimmel Drive, Davenport.
  • Thursday, Nov. 10th – Loading Day, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., River Bend Food Bank.
  • Thursday, Nov. 10th – Finale Rally, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., River Bend Food Bank.

The 2022 Student Hunger Drive sponsors are The Bechtel Trusts, Hy-Vee, IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union, and the John Deere Foundation.

The participating schools are Alleman High School, Assumption High School, Bettendorf High School, Davenport Central High School, Davenport North High School, Davenport West High School, Moline High School, Morning Star Academy, Orion High School, Pleasant Valley High School, Quad Cities Christian School, Rivermont Collegiate, Rock Island High School, Sherrard High School, and United Township High School.

Last year, the winning schools were:

Division C (up to 299 enrolled students):

o 1st place – Rivermont Collegiate

o 2nd place – Quad Cities Christian School

Division B (300 to 1,250 enrolled students):

o 1st place – Alleman High School

o 2nd place – Orion High School

Division A (over 1,250 enrolled students):

o 1st place – Pleasant Valley High School

o 2nd place – Bettendorf High School

The 2021 “Mission Challenge Award” winner – school that showed the best connection of their school to the mission of River Bend Food Bank — was Orion High School.