052919_MNS_Food_n_Fun Jerry Veltri Jerry Tiarsmith Pam Jones

From left, Jerry Veltri and Jerry Tiarsmith of St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church and Knights of Columbus Council 16513 stand with Community Assistance Center Development Director Pam Jones after being named the overall winner of the Food ‘n Fun Challenge.

The Community Assistance Center May 10 announced the results of its 2019 Food ’n Fun Challenge, and in the final weigh-in, 27 teams from Sandy Springs and Dunwoody collected a total of 60,704 pounds of food. That’s an increase from the 2018 total of 56,772 pounds.

Located in Sandy Springs, the center assists the poor in that city and Dunwoody. The challenge is a year-round food drive contest among businesses, schools, congregations and any groups that want to participate.

Groups chose what time of the year they want to hold their food drives and each May, to correspond with the end of the school year, the center announces the teams that collected the most.

Food from the challenge stocks the center’s food pantry year-round to provide for local families and individuals in need. In 2018 the center distributed about 60,000 pounds of food a month to an average of 500 families a month. The pantry receives more than 1,200 visits a month.

Food donations from the challenge in the spring help ensure families can get the food they need during the summer. The pantry often runs low on food in the summer months because requests for food assistance typically increase during the summer while donations typically decline.

During the summer months, families living on tight budgets face additional financial stress as food costs increase when children are home for school vacation and not receiving free lunches at school.

Taking the challenge this year were businesses, schools, congregations, civic groups, neighborhoods and city departments. Winners were announced at the food pantry. Temple Emanu-El was the recipient of the Pantry Partner award for its overall efforts to support the food pantry including food drives and more than 70 volunteers who work regularly scheduled shifts in the food pantry.

The other winners were:

Overall: St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church and Knights of Columbus Council 16513 – 15,351 pounds

Business Category: Graphic Packaging – 12,156 pounds

Elementary School Category: Austin Elementary – first, 4,361 pounds; Heards Ferry Elementary – second, 1,958 pounds

High School Category: Mount Vernon Presbyterian School – 1,466 pounds

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