Student Hunger Drive hits record with 817,038 meals donated

Sherrard (Illinois) High School students deliver food to River Bend Food Bank’s Davenport operation on Thursday, Nov. 10. CREDIT RIVER BEND FOOD BANK

After a record 2021, the Student Hunger Drive came back this year producing yet another new record, this time, against very challenging economic times.

In its 36th year of collecting food for those hungry in the Quad Cities and beyond, the 2022 Student Hunger Drive brought in a collective 817,038 meals from 16 area high schools and their elementary and middle school counterparts.

Launched in 1985, the Student Hunger Drive has provided the equivalent of more than 16 million meals to children and adults facing hunger in River Bend Food Bank’s 23-county service area in eastern Iowa and western Illinois. 

During the annual drive’s Finale Rally, held Thursday, Nov. 10, at River Bend Food Bank’s Davenport operation, these Quad Cities regional schools were awarded top honors in three divisions (based on enrollment) for their efforts collecting food and funds. The 2022 award winners are:

  • Division C (up to 299 enrolled students):

1st place – Morning Star Academy, Bettendorf.

2nd place – Alleman High School, Rock Island.

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

1st place – Orion High School.

2nd place – Assumption High School, Davenport.

  • Division A (over 1,250 enrolled students):

1st place – Pleasant Valley High School.

2nd place – Bettendorf High School.

In addition, the Most Improved Award was given to the school that had the greatest percentage of improvement from their 2021. The 2022 Most Improved Award went to Morning Star Academy, whose efforts increased over 100%. 

The 2022 Mission Challenge Award – a special award given to a participating school that writes a 500-word essay and presents a display board discussing how their school embodies River Bend Food Bank’s mission (“leading the community-wide effort to end hunger in eastern Iowa and western Illinois”) was presented to Moline High School.

From the school’s essay: “We tried our very hardest to raise as much as we could because we know there are so many people in our schools who rely on the Food Bank. With all of the other responsibilities a student has, they should never have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.”

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

“The thousands of students who participated this year give me great hope for the future leadership of our community,” said Nancy Renkes, the new president & CEO of River Bend Food Bank. “I’m overwhelmed by their creativity, determination, and compassion for their classmates experiencing hunger. We have a wonderful community of businesses and organizations supporting their work.”

The 2022 Student Hunger Drive participating schools were: Alleman High School, Assumption High School, Bettendorf High School, Davenport Central High School, Davenport North High School, Davenport West High School, Mid City 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.

Area students collected food and money donations over a six-week campaign (Oct. 3-Nov. 10) – engaging them in meeting a crucial community need while introducing them to service and philanthropy. The students planned and executed their own food and funds drives, set goals for their school and competed against each other. During the hands-on, leadership development experience, students received education on hunger, learned about volunteerism, and worked with the Food Bank.

“On behalf of those facing food insecurity in our region, many thanks to the students, the faculty advisors, school administrators, and everyone who contributed to the drive,” Ms. Renkes said. 

According to Feeding America’s 2022 Map the Meal Gap study, one out of every 10 adults (and one out of every seven children) struggles with food insecurity locally. Hunger continues to be a prevalent issue that requires a community-wide response. 

During 2021, an estimated 53 million people accessed food assistance programs across the United States. With this year’s inflation rates and food costs steeply rising in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the work of food banks and local food pantries continues to be essential to keeping families from making impossible choices between buying groceries and paying for other necessities.

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