Gonzaga Prep Wins National Food Drive Challenge
In its first year participating in a “friendly but spirited competition,” Gonzaga Preparatory School has won the Great Ignatian Challenge – a nationwide food drive contest among Jesuit high schools – by bringing in the most pounds of food per student.
Together with 17 other Jesuit schools, primarily in the East, the food drive competition collected over 514,797 pounds of food – 127,131 of which was Gonzaga Prep’s contribution. Those 60 tons of food served more than 300 families and 750 individuals in the greater Spokane area.
“The food drive is a weeks-long buildup of preparation to a short but powerful moment in time—just a few minutes—where our students knock on a door to meet a family in the community where they are reminded that we all belong to one another,” said Liz Slamkowski, director of the Office of Service and Justice in a press release, “that moment of delivery makes it all worth it for our students, but more importantly, those we serve. We are so proud of our students.”
The Great Ignatian Challenge was initiated in 2016 by Jim Rowen, a 1982 graduate of Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx. Rowen’s support, including more than $510,000 this year, is divided among the schools based on the amount of food collected per student.
Gonzaga Prep’s portion of the prize for the first-place finish is $60,000 which is restricted by the benefactor for the school’s Fair Share tuition assistance program.
Gonzaga Prep’s food drive is one of the largest and longest-running in the Inland Northwest. For more than 60 years, students have committed to collecting food for those in our community who are most in need. This year’s drive collected the most food in the school’s history.
Tracy Simmons is an award-winning journalist specializing in religion reporting and digital entrepreneurship. In her approximate 20 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti. Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut and Washington. She is the executive director of SpokaneFāVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Washington. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and national publications. She is a Scholarly Assistant Professor of Journalism at Washington State University.