The annual Fight Against Hunger Games event is underway in Delaware County and will culminate next week with the distribution of 450 meal kits to families in need.
The event, which is in its eighth year, began as a partnership between the Delaware County Juvenile Court and Hayes High School. Over the years, it has grown to include numerous organizations, schools, community partners and businesses.
Karen Wadkins, fiscal coordinator at the Delaware County Probate/Juvenile Court and one of the organizers of the event, said Tuesday that more than 400 meal kits were distributed last year. This year, the event is on track to distribute more than 450 meal kits, she added.
Delaware City Schools Superintendent Heidi Kegley said the district is happy to once again be part of the event.
“Delaware City Schools is proud to partner with other school districts and Delaware County agencies in the Fight Against Hunger,” she said. “It is truly awesome to see the entire community come together to support those who can use a helping hand. Our students also enjoy seeing the impact they can have as the collections build at each school. We know the meal kits positively impact families, and we hope they add a bit of joy to their holidays.
Throughout Delaware City Schools, students are collecting different items for the food drive: corn, peas, green beans, macaroni and cheese, and cake mix.
Wadkins said the organizers of the event have had to contend with rising costs, but the addition of new partners have ensured that the meal kits will still be fully stocked and distributed.
“This year has been interesting. … The cost of turkeys went up, but we were able to make new contacts and partnerships with this program,” Wadkins said.
Buckeye Valley Local Schools is one of the event’s new partners this year.
“All of their schools participated this year and that’s new,” Wadkins said. “They really stepped up.”
Wadkins said three Olentangy high schools also participated this year, including Olentangy Liberty High School, which donated $2,000 of cereal to the event.
Performance Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Delaware also made a $500 donation and has been showing up with food donations, Wadkins added. Additionally, she said the City of Delaware Engineer Department and the Delaware County Board of Elections also collected donations for the event this year.
On Monday, the Delaware Eagles Post #376 made a $2,000 donation, which is four times the post’s usual $500 donation.
“It’s amazing!” Wadkins said. “I’m always so moved by the community effort this takes and how quickly people jump at the chance to make this feasible. We started with 50 turkeys and ramen noodles, and by letting other agencies and schools participate, we’ve been able to grow this thing and reach those who are having food security problems.”
The food will be distributed from 2 to 6 p.m. or while supplies last on Tuesday, Nov. 22, at the Byxbe Campus (formerly the Delaware Area Career Center North Campus) located at 1610 state Route 521, Delaware.
“It’s great to be part of the food collection but it really is moving when you pack that meal into a vehicle and you know that that family is going to be fed for a holiday meal,” Wadkins said. “This year is going to be exponentially more expensive (for families) than last year. You add $2 to everything that hits the Thanksgiving table, that’s a lot. We couldn’t do this without all our partners. What that turns into is that we’ve got a lot of money that we’re able to use to buy things for the pantry bags.”
Wadkins said the majority of the food is being organized and packed this week, but she added interested parties can still get involved by contacting her at [email protected] to find out what needs remain.
“We’re starting to get final counts of items we need,” she said. “Every item we get donated is one less item we have to purchase. It’s mass chaos every year, but every year, it comes together and it’s just amazing. Being able to share that with as many people as possible is just amazing.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.