Students at Fordham Prep are helping feed the hungry this holiday season, and as an added bonus it may also help their fellow students in need of tuition assistance.
Fordham Prep, a Catholic and Jesuit boys’ high school located on the campus of Fordham University, set an ambitious goal of collecting 27,000 individual items of food for distribution to local charities.
As of press time, the food collection was still ongoing.
The beneficiaries are Our Lady Of Assumption Helping Hand Food Pantry in Pelham Bay; Concourse House in Fordham; Mercy Center in the Hub; Part of the Solution in Fordham and St. Catherine of Siena Outreach to the borough.
Additionally, an anonymous donor has gifted $250,000 to six tri-state area Jesuit high schools for tuition assistance for students in need, with the funds to be distributed in proportion to how well each school performs in collecting items for the needy before Thanksgiving.
The friendly but spirited competition is called The Great Ignatian Challenge, named after the schools’ patron saint, St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Michael Kravitz, Fordham Prep director of campus ministries, said that the challenge would help students who might also potentially in theory have food insecurity and need tuition assistance.
“A donor saw our food drive and was really moved by it and said ‘we have got to get the word out,’” said Kraviz, adding that the donor decided to create the competition among the schools and see what they could do collectively.
Fordham Prep makes its food drives student led, said Kravitz.
“We have a committee of seniors who are led by two students who were elected, and they are really the force behind this,” he said.
Seniors Nicholas Frank and Christopher Friend are co-chairs of the high school’s Hunger Awareness Committee.
“As members of the Fordham Prep community, we are called to be men and women for others,” Frank and Friend both said in a statement. “This is our opportunity to serve the common good.”
They added: “The hungry in our midst need our support. St. Ignatius of Loyola called on us to be loving and to commit ourselves to doing justice.”
After the food is collected, the students visit the locations and personally distribute it every year.
Chris Bean, the executive director of Part of the Solution, an anti-poverty organization on Webster Avenue that serves tens of thousands of people a year, said he was grateful for the efforts of Fordham Prep and other organizations and small business to fight hunger.
“We rely on individuals, small business and schools,” said Bean, and said that while he is not sure of the exact poundage, the 27,000 food items could be meals for as many as 1,000 people.
The need is very evident, he said, adding that the Bronx has the highest concentration of food insecurity in the city.
Overall, the six schools in the Ignatian Challenge are striving to collect 88,000 food items before Thanksgiving.