Three, two, one, shop! Contestants were off to the races Tuesday morning at the Rio Hill Shopping Center Kroger, given 60 seconds to grab as much food as possible and load it into their shopping carts.
All of that food was donated to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
There were five contestants in this year’s Shop to Stop Hunger, the 10th iteration of the event put on by the food bank which attracted a crowd of nearly two dozen.
The winner – based on who had the most valuable cart as well as the most monetary donations made in their name online since Oct. 1 and in-store item donations by other shoppers on Tuesday – was Rebecca Haydock with Central Virginia Small Business Development Council.
Haydock collected enough to make 7,440 meals for people in need through her Shop to Stop Hunger cart run and online and in-store donations.
She left Kroger Tuesday with the “Cart Away Hunger” trophy and $5,000 in the her name funded by the UVa Community Credit Union.
“It’s amazing to think about that we can stop hunger in just 60 seconds, at least for a day or two for a lot of families. Over time, the impact is really significant. In the 10 years that we’ve done this, we have generated enough money and enough food to provide more than 620,000 meals families in the service area we cover,” Michael McKee, CEO of Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, told the crowd gathered at Kroger before the race Tuesday.
The four other contestants who competed alongside Haydock included:
Sabrina Feggans with Beyond Fitness with Sabrina.Anne Oliver with Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors.Kate Purnell with Central Virginia Swim Services.And Connor Shellenberger, the University of Virginia men’s lacrosse team captain.
Before the competition began, the contestants had time to go through aisles six through 10 and design a game plan: where to go, what to grab, items’ sizes and costs. Cereals and other boxed goods as well as cooking supplies were a favorite.
Feggans, who recently won the 2023 John. F. Bell Sr. Vanguard Award for minority business owners, told The Daily Progress she went through multiple game plans in her head until she overheard Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Director Millie Winstead say, “Think about things that you would feed your family.”
Feggans said she changed her strategy; she would not just be looking at an item’s cost but its impact on the health and wellness of the family who eventually found it in their pantry.
“It was so much fun. And to be able to feed that amount of families is just amazing,” Feggans said after finishing the race.
In total, all five contestants collected roughly 74,000 meals through their shopping spree, support and donations. Kroger and Home Instead Senior Care covered the costs of the event and the donations to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
“Every dollar allows us to provide food for about four meals. That is because of the leverage we get from food donations, cash donations and volunteer support,” McKee said. “When we do an event like this, and we count the cash and equate that to meals in addition to the equivalent to the amount of the pounds [of food] we gather, that’s how we come up with the total today.”
Jeanne McCusker of Home Instead Senior Care came up with the idea of Shop to Stop Hunger in 2013 when she was a food bank board member and event sponsor. She had won a gift card to the Reid Super-Save Market on Preston Avenue through an American Cancer Society silent auction, and wanted to use the gift card to help the community and make it beneficial to the food bank. McCusker and the food bank got five people together to do the first Shop to Stop Hunger at Reid and in the following years brought the contest to Kroger.