Four Gwinnett County Public Schools clusters came together to donate more than 64,338 pounds of food to local food pantries as part of the fourth year of the Friday Night Food Fight.
Local high schools competed against each other, determined by football team matchups, to donate the most pounds of food per student. Mill Creek High School was announced a winner against Archer High School on Friday night with 15,035 pounds of food donated within the cluster. Archer contributed 8,842 pounds of food.
Archer and Mill Creek clusters accounted for roughly 40,000 pounds of the food donated during this year’s competition. Mill Creek cluster’s Ivy Creek Elementary School donated 5,774 pounds, the most of any elementary school in the cluster. Osborne Middle School collected 6,422 pounds, the most of the two middle schools in the cluster.
Two weeks earlier, Dacula and Mountain View High Schools were separated by less than a can of spaghetti. Dacula’s total of 10,533 pounds and Mountain View’s total of 12,991 pounds amounted to a difference of approximately .0005 pounds per student, according to Susan Lang from the Food Pantry of Hamilton Mill United Methodist Church.
“We never conceived it would be that close,” Lang said. “When you really look at that amount, we just couldn’t call it either way. ... Both worked so hard, we couldn’t say you lost because one school used a bigger box, or something.”
Mill Creek and Mountain View’s donations go to the Food Pantry at Hamilton Mill, while the donations from Dacula and Archer go to the Lawrenceville Co-op. A portion of Dacula’s donations also go to the school’s student-run food pantry.
“We want to make sure that kids are collecting for folks they’ll see in their own community,” Lang said. “We wanted to mindfully split it up so clusters were serving the communities they live in.”
The Friday Night Food Fights have delivered more than 133,000 pounds of food to local families in need over the past three years.
Lang said talks have already started regarding adding new schools to future events. While Mountain View and Dacula won’t play each other next year, Mountain View’s region rival Peachtree Ridge could be added to the 2020 competition, according Lang.
The competition is a staple for local food pantries since it started between Mill Creek and Dacula four years ago. There are other local variations of the event, and the model is one that an be replicated anywhere there is a food pantry looking for donations. That opens the door for the event to grow next year.
“Watching this grow over four years, the community comes together,” Lang said. “One of the things that — as I watched kids going to the trucks — was that the bags had three or four cans of food in them. That means wasn’t like a big bulk order, it was a lot of kids that came together.”