The annual Verona Area High School food drive for the Badger Prairie Needs Network completed its final collection on Wednesday, Dec. 18.

It totaled 17,250 pounds of food and goods. The students also collected $1,000 to donate. Last year’s drive reached about 20,000 pounds.

The drive began Wednesday, Oct 30, with the goal of helping Verona area families who struggle with food scarcity and insecurity.

Each week of the drive, different items were requested. Items requested included canned fruits, vegetables and meats, brownie and cake mixes and toiletries.

The high school students traveled around to other schools in the district each week to collect items and make weekly drop-offs to BPNN.

In addition to donations by VASD parents, staff and students, community members were able to donate at Miller and Sons Supermarket, which supported the drive with in-store campaigns, providing customers with sheets of paper outlining items needed.

“Thanks to the generous help and hard work of Verona school district students and families, we have raised enough food to help support BPNN’s patrons until spring,” Surya Blasiole, one of the student food drive directors said.

BPNN estimates the combined food and cash donation will provide 18,500 meals for local families facing hunger this winter.

“Much of the food our school district collects goes back to families in the district struggling to meet their nutritional needs, which makes the cause much more personal and impactful for many at the school,” Blasiole said.

Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Megan Wenn has been the staff adviser for the food drive for 12 years.

Wenn also oversees the ProStart program at VAHS, which provides a professional mentorship experience in an industry-developed culinary curriculum. Wenn uses BPNN’s Prairie Kitchen to teach hands-on classes and provide students with real world culinary industry experience.

“Thank you doesn’t begin to describe how grateful we are for these enterprising teens and our community,” BPNN wrote on Facebook.

Contact Neal Patten, Verona Community Reporter, at neal.patten@wcinet.com.