Dacula High School Student Council members take a break from weighing donations during the 2018 Food Fight. COURTESY OF SYDNEY BENSON/DACULA HIGH SCHOOL

Gwinnett schools’ ‘food fight’ helps needy

When school administrators discover students are planning a food fight, thwarting the scheme becomes a priority, but a tradition started by students at Gwinnett County’s Dacula High School aims to build community spirit instead of destroy school property.

This “Food Fight” is actually a challenge among four neighboring schools to provide the most donations to area food pantries.

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On Friday, Mountain View High School and Dacula High School will face off on the gridiron, but students and fans are encouraged to give to the most needy people in their community.

From Tuesday, Sept. 3, through Thursday, Sept. 5, the two schools accepted donations of nonperishable foods and toiletries. The winner will be announced at halftime of the football game between the two schools on Friday, Sept. 6, at Dacula High.

This is the fourth year of the Friday Night Food Fight, started at Dacula High in 2016.

Items collected by Dacula students will go to the school’s Falcon Food Nest pantry and the Lawrenceville Co-Operative Ministry. Donations collected by Mountain View will go to the Pantry at Hamilton Mill United Methodist Church.

This is the second year in a row Dacula has taken on Mountain View in the competition. Last year Dacula students collected donations totaling more than 8,100 pounds. Mountain View students collected more than 7,000 pounds. The first two years of the competition, Dacula High competed against Mill Creek High School.

“From the first year we saw that the need was great,” said Kelly Cooper, a teacher at Dacula and a sponsor of the student council. “There were students in our building who were in need, not just people in the community, so we started a food pantry right here at school.” Students are given a backpack on Fridays to help get them through the weekend, when there’s no school lunch or breakfast to supplement what they’re getting at home.

“It was a real eye-opener,” said Sydney Benson, student council president. “You don’t realize that people you see every day may be going through something like that.”

The following week Archer and Mountain View will square off with the same challenge.

“At one point, Dacula was the only high school in the area and eventually it was split into the four area high schools,” said Cooper. “This gets so much community involvement that we know it will be a staple for a long time. We have middle and elementary students who feed into the clusters bringing donations and taking part in spirit nights.”

“We really are one family,” Benson added. “We look out for each other.”

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