In a spectacular show of generosity, school spirit, and commitment to community, seven East Coast Jesuit high schools have concluded a friendly but spirited holiday food drive competition. In all, the students of these schools collected 137,632 pounds of food to provide local food banks and pantries with much-needed provisions during the critical Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.
Launched in early November, the competition, called the Great Ignatian Challenge, included Fairfield Prep (Fairfield, CT), Fordham Preparatory School (The Bronx), Loyola School (Manhattan), Regis High School (Manhattan), Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School (Philadelphia, PA), Saint Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, NJ), and Xavier High School (Manhattan). The Challenge derives its name from the 16th-century saint, Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuits.
The Great Ignatian Challenge was created by Jim Rowen P'12 in 2016 to put a spotlight on hunger in our communities. Inspired by the students’ collective commitment to social justice, Rowen has also contributed more than $1.1 million to support scholarship funds for needy students at each institution. Rowen serves as chief operating officer at Renaissance Technologies, LLC, a New York-based registered investment adviser.
Rowen’s donations, including $350,000 this year, are divided among the schools based on the amount of food collected per student. He said, “St. Ignatius taught us that love speaks louder in deeds more than words. The students at these seven Jesuit schools embody Ignatian principles and beliefs. I am inspired by their commitment to be Men for Others.”
Since the Challenge began in 2016, the participating schools collectively amassed 218 tons of food! The results of this year’s challenge are:
• Loyola collected 15,520.50 lbs. of food (68.67 lbs. per student), donated to City Harvest in New York City.
• Fordham Prep collected 35,969 lbs. of food (36.59 lbs. per student), donated to five local Bronx charities: Part of the Solution (POTS), Mercy Center, Concourse House, Our Lady of Assumption Food Pantry (Bronx), and Jeanne Jugan Residence.
• Regis collected 15,352 lbs. of food (29.02 lbs. per student), donated to New York Common Pantry.
• Fairfield Prep collected 18,449.47 lbs. of food (23.96 lbs. per student), donated to Operation Hope, Action for Bridgeport Community Development (ABCD) and Blessed Sacrament Parish Food Pantry.
• St. Peter's Prep collected 17,889 lbs. of food (20.05 lbs. per student), donated to St. Matthew's Lutheran Church and St. Patrick & Assumption/All Saints Parish, both in Jersey City.
• St. Joe’s Prep collected 17,893 lbs. of food (19.62 lbs. per student), donated to St. Joseph's Prep Hurtado Food Pantry.
• Xavier collected 16,559 lbs. of food (5.62 lbs. per student), donated to Xavier Mission.
A key component of a Jesuit education is community service, which allows students to gain first-hand knowledge of local, national, and global issues. Through service to the community, students participate in the world as competent, concerned, and responsible members who are committed to social justice.