The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League has teamed up with Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to hold an inaugural league-wide food drive through Oct. 23.
Schools will be divided into six divisions by enrollment. Bethel Park, Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair and Peters Township along with Baldwin and Canon-McMillan have been placed in the 6A division. Chartiers Valley and South Fayette are classified in 5A.
Schools tabulating the most “meals” — total between money donated and food collected — in each of those divisions will be announced at the end of October.
Winners will be recognized during the annual WPIAL Sportsmanship Summit Nov. 17 with a banner for their achievement. Donations can be made through financial and food donations.
“We want to use our network to do good and now is the perfect time to help those in need,” said Amy Scheuneman, WPIAL executive director. “The added benefit of this project is that the ‘meals’ provided will directly impact the schools’ districts, students, and families we serve on a daily basis. Childhood hunger and food insecurity are real, and we can do something about it.”
Each school has its own donation page at pittsburghfoodbank.org/wpial, where a running total of donations will be recorded.
Those wanting to donate will be asked to select their school from the Pittsburgh Food Bank link. For every $1 donated, five meals can be provided. School totals will also be credited to their applicable food bank.
For food donations, with every 1.25 pounds of food collected, one meal can be provided.
Schools are permitted to have multiple food collections – such as in school, at a sporting event, or during a school event. Schools will then have to select a time and location to drop off collected items so it can be weighed and credited towards the school’s total meals provided.
Food drop-off times vary by location. Schools will have the opportunity to tour the facilities to learn more about the mission and operations of the food bank.
If every school raises just $500, the WPIAL Food Drive will be able to collectively support over 250,000 meals to local children, families and seniors in need.
“As the Food Bank continues to see a 31% increase in the need for food security resources across the region, we are grateful for partners like the WPIAL who continue to support our mission in such meaningful ways,” said Maria Montaro, community fundraising coordinator for Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. “Donating monetarily and collecting nonperishable food items is one of the best ways that you can make a difference in the lives of the children, families, and seniors we serve. Thank you to all who will be participating in the WPIAL League-Wide Food Drive to raise 250,000 meals for our neighbors in need.”
On Sept. 24, Scheuneman and the WPIAL joined Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s Sports and Media Coalition, which is a collaboration between local media and the region’s professional, NCAA Division I, high school and other influential sports organizations.
The Sports and Media Coalition’s initial goal is to ensure all youth in the region have enough healthy food to eat. Quarterly priorities during the first year include raising awareness about existing resources to improve children’s food security, working collaboratively to reduce stigmas for kids participating in child nutrition programs, to promote healthy eating and physical activities for kids and advocating to elected officials for strong child nutrition policies.