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Record Breaking Great Ignatian Challenge Collects 84 Tons of Food

In an extraordinary show of generosity, school spirit and commitment to serving the community, nine East Coast Jesuit high schools have concluded a friendly, but spirited, holiday food drive competition collecting 168,372.88 pounds of food as part of the The Great Ignatian Challenge (GIC)which will fill local food banks and pantries with much-needed provisions during the critical Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.  

Fordham Prep surpassed all previous records, collecting over $77,000 equating to nearly 46,700 pounds of food distributed to Part of the Solution (POTS), Concourse House, Mercy Center, and to our own Fordham Prep families.

"This year's Great Ignatian Challenge was unlike any other given the uncertainty due to the pandemic and shifting the drive to an online platform," says Director of Campus Ministry Michael Kravatz P '23, who led Fordham Prep's food drive. "When speaking with our partner food pantries, it was clear that the financial effects of COVID-19 have really devastated so many and have increased the need for food like never before. To see the Fordham Prep community respond so generously was truly inspiring."

Launched in early November, the competition, called the Great Ignatian Challenge, included Canisius High School (Buffalo, NY);  Fairfield Prep (Fairfield, CT); Fordham Preparatory School (The Bronx); Loyola School (Manhattan); McQuaid Jesuit (Rochester, NY); 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, founder of the Jesuits.  

The Great Ignatian Challenge was initiated by Jim Rowen ’82 in 2016. Inspired by the Jesuit mission of becoming “women and men for others,” the Challenge highlights the collective service power and generosity among Jesuit high schools. In support of the students’ efforts, Rowen has given more than $1,350,000 towards scholarship funds for students at these institutions. "We also remain so grateful to Jim Rowen for once again helping to motivate our students to be men and women for others during a time of great need," says Kravatz. 

"Running the GIC this year was exciting, but at the same time insanely urgent and nerve-racking," says food drive co-chair Aidan Dwyer '21. "I trusted we would pull through and hit our goals, but the immense need of our neighbors right outside our school walls made every single donation so much more important."

"I’m exceedingly proud that we raised record breaking amounts during this year’s drive, and I think it’s a testament to the generosity of the FP community that we were able to give more than ever before, regardless of the ongoing pandemic and all of the changes we experienced in this running of this year’s GIC."

Food Drive co-chair Nicholas Vianna '21 agrees. "With all of the issues this year presented, our community needed the GIC more than ever. With this in mind, I am so grateful for the generous donations of our Fordham Prep community. I was constantly astounded by how strongly we participated, raising more than I could imagine when we began in early November. Even though we facilitated the challenge through strictly remote means this year, I hope the results can be a strong indication of the GIC's importance to our community as well as how we may continue this tradition for years to come."

Rowen’s support, including $250,000 this year, is 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 nine Jesuit schools embody Ignatian principles and beliefs.  I am inspired by their commitment to be women and men for others.” 

Since the Challenge began in 2016, the participating schools have collectively amassed 302 tons of food. 

Press Release