In the 13 years since she inherited coordination of Verona Area High School’s annual fall food drive, teacher Megan Wenn has said she’s never before seen the students being such “rock stars.”

The food drive, run by students in the Family, Career and Community Leaders of American organization, is held at Miller and Sons Supermarket over several weeks of November and December each year. The food collected is donated to both the Badger Prairie Needs Network and Boys and Girls Club Food Pantry.

But this year has “been pretty special,” Wenn said.

In the first week of the program this year from Oct. 27 to Nov. 4, students collected 9,249 pounds of food – a drastic increase from a typical year, Wenn said, when the kick-off week only nets around 200 to 300 pounds of food. The second week continued the significant uptick of donations, Wenn added, bringing in close to 5,000 pounds of food.

The overall goal is to collect 20,000 pounds of goods by the end of the final week of the program, Dec. 10-16. Wenn said 100% of donations will go to people faced with food scarcity.

The food drive has also received a $500 donation from Pick ‘n Save after Delaney McIntosh, one of the program’s student directors, asked to put a donation bin there.

The food drive typically follows a busy week of homecoming activities, so students are not always enthusiastic or energized, Wenn said. But this year, she said she’s wondered if because of COVID-19 preventing students from getting together, this program is a way to socialize – while a good cause gets to benefit.

Students have made changes to how they collect food at Miller and Sons to protect both themselves and customers from spreading COVID-19, Wenn said. While students still pass out slips of paper listing what they need, donors also have the ability to take a picture of it on their smartphones to use as they shop instead.

Another change this year is rather than sorting the items out at the high school, students are using their own home garages to sort, because of limitations on social gatherings.

Neal Patten, community reporter, can be contacted at neal.patten@wcinet.com.