Student Hunger Drive brings in an impressive 734,781 meals  

After a COVID-19 hiatus in 2020, the Student Hunger Drive returned for a 35th year with its largest food collection in five years. 

Working with their elementary and middle school counterparts, 16 high schools across the Quad Cities region brought in a collective 734,781 meals for the 2021 Student Hunger Drive.

First launched in 1985, the Student Hunger Drive has provided nearly 16 million meals to children, families, and seniors facing hunger in River Bend Food Bank’s 23-county service area in eastern Iowa and western Illinois. 

Throughout the six-week food drive, held Oct. 4-Nov. 16, students planned and executed their own food and funds drives. As they set goals to meet the crucial community need and competed with other area high schools, the students were introduced to the power of community service and philanthropy.

“I could not be more proud of the students who participated,” said Mike Miller, the president and CEO of River Bend Food Bank. “After missing last year because of COVID, many of the student leaders had not participated before. Yet it was the biggest Student Hunger Drive in the past five years with 13 of the 16 schools collecting more than they did in 2019.” 

Orion (Ill.) High School collected more food than it has ever in any other year while Pleasant Valley High School brought in the most total pounds of food — weighing in at 79,344 pounds.

“Congratulations to the students, and on behalf of hungry people, many thanks to them, the faculty advisors, school administrators, and everyone who contributed to the drive,” said Mr. Miller. “It has been a great day for our community.”

The 2021 participating high schools were: Alleman, Assumption, Bettendorf, Davenport Central, Davenport North, Davenport West, Moline, Morning Star Academy, North Scott, Orion, Pleasant Valley, Quad Cities Christian School, Rivermont Collegiate, Rock Island,  Sherrard and United Township.

This year’s food drive was sponsored by: The Bechtel Trusts, Hy-Vee, IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union, and the John Deere Foundation.

River Bend announced the Student Hunger Drive grand totals and winners at a Finale Rally on Nov. 16 at its west Davenport warehouse. Awards were presented in three divisions (based on student enrollment) for 1st and 2nd place total food and funds collected.

The 2021 award winners are:

Division C (up to 299 enrolled students): 1st place – Rivermont Collegiate; 2nd place – Quad Cities Christian School.

Division B (300 to 1,250 enrolled students): 1st place – Alleman High School; 2nd place – Orion High School.

Division A (over 1,250 enrolled students): 1st place – Pleasant Valley High School; 2nd place – Bettendorf High School.

The 2021 Mission Challenge Award: This special award is presented to a participating school that writes a 500-word essay and presents a display board discussing how it embodied the River Bend’s mission of “leading the community-wide effort to end hunger in eastern Iowa and western Illinois.” The 2021 award was presented to Orion High School. 

From Orion’s essay: “Every moment became worthwhile as our students united together to make a difference in the community. Our student council led the charge, and the high school student body, the elementary school and the community responded to the call. We pulled together in an effort to make a difference greater than all of us, and we succeeded in more ways than we could’ve possibly imagined.”

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