Scranton Prep students competing to combat hunger

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A local high school dedicated its final home football game of the season to fighting food insecurity. It’s all part of a first-time event in a continuing effort to give back.

Scranton prep cheerleaders energized fans as the cavaliers took on Lake Lehman. But the field isn’t the only place teamwork was at play.

Members of the Prep community collected nonperishable items at the gate. This special “can game” is part of their involvement in what’s called “the great ignatian challenge initiative.”

“Really the engine of this initiative, the energy that’s behind it is all student-organized and lead. Our students are so excited about this and are out in the community raising awareness of food insecurity while also trying to do something great for Scranton Prep and the City of Scranton,” said Father A.J. Rizzo, President of Scranton Preparatory School.

Prep students are competing against fourteen other Jesuit High Schools along the east coast to gather the largest amount of food by thanksgiving eve.

Winning schools can earn up to $60,000 in scholarships and financial assistance. But the greater purpose is to inspire students to care for their communities and take action to make a difference.

“I think that part of what is wonderful about Scranton Prep and Jesuit education, in general, is that it’s both cool to be smart and cool to be kind. And this initiative really combines both of those things,” stated Father Rizzo.

The competition started earlier this month. Each week during the challenge, prep offers fun incentives including dress-down days and free admission to games.

So far, students have collected nearly 3,000 pounds of food.

“It’s just an overwhelming amount and it’s really inspiring to see all of my friends and classmates come together and bring all this food out,” said Mitchell Kirby.

Four local charities will benefit, including friends of the poor, St. Francis of Assisi Kitchen and the Ronald McDonald House.

“Our goal with this is to fill at least a tractor-trailer full of food. And that tractor-trailer filled with goods during a time when people would need it the most hopefully goes out to every one of our students’ communities,” explained Corey Henfling, the Dean of Students.

Students say the efforts align with Prep’s commitment to community service.

“Prep has created a student body and community with a mission to be women and men for others, and that’s just what we continue to do,” said Marcel Fediw.