The Great Ignatian Challenge may be the friendliest “food fight” ever to take place between five competitive and, at times, rival Jesuit high schools.
Canned items were collected during the month-long challenge by students at Fordham Preparatory School, the Bronx; Loyola School, Regis High School and Xavier High School, all of Manhattan; and St. Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, N.J. The Challenge derives its name from the 16th-century saint, Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.
More than 101,000 cans of food—the equivalent of 44 tons of provisions—were donated in total by the five schools during the drive, which ran from Oct. 18 to Nov. 18.
Loyola School won the competition, collecting 52.7 items per student.
The idea for the Ignatian Challenge came from an anonymous donor who was inspired by past Thanksgiving drives at each school—now revealed to be Jim Rowen, a 1982 Fordham Prep graduate who is chief operating officer of Renaissance Technologies, an investment management firm based in New York. He serves as board chairman at Fordham Prep.
Rowen pledged up to $250,000 in tuition assistance to be divided among the schools based on the amount of food collected per student.
As the winner, Loyola received $81,200.
Regis earned $64,000. Fordham Prep, coming in third, received $47,800. St. Peter’s received $34,000 and Xavier received $23,000.
“Jesuit high schools are most often recognized for their educational rigor. The Great Ignatian Challenge clearly demonstrates their commitment to helping those who are less fortunate in our wider community,” Rowen said.
“For over 100 years, our students, faculty and staff have embraced the teachings and example set by St. Ignatius. The Challenge is another example of the extraordinary things that can be achieved when good people are in the service of others,” he said.
Siobhan Kiernan, a senior at Loyola, said, “As students in a Jesuit school, we are committed to being women and men for others. Through participating in The Great Ignatian Challenge, we are doing just that—collectively serving those who are in need of food in our communities. While we can’t solve the larger issue of world hunger, we are making an impact in our own way.”
Cardinal Dolan, in a statement supporting The Challenge, said, “What these schools have accomplished is no surprise at all! St. Ignatius Loyola asked the Jesuits he founded to form ‘men for others.’ That’s what these students are—men and women for others.”
Some 10,700 cans of food collected by Loyola students were donated to the New York Common Pantry, a food pantry in Manhattan, and The Dwelling Place, a homeless shelter for women in Manhattan. Regis donated 22,000 items to The New York Common Pantry and the Jan Hus Food Pantry run at a Presbyterian church in Manhattan. Concourse House, Mercy Center and Part of the Solution (P.O.T.S.), all in the Bronx, benefited from Fordham Prep’s 31,100 items. Thanks to the students at St. Peter’s Prep, the shelves of its own food bank were filled with nearly 22,000 cans of food. Xavier High School provided the Xavier Mission of St. Francis Xavier Church in Manhattan with nearly 16,100 food items.