This fall, the Academy of International Studies at Independence High School is competing to feed the hungry.

The competition is the Student Hunger Drive of the Carolinas, a competition among more than 20 schools to donate food to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

This is Independence’s first year competing in the hunger drive, which started in 2010 with 12 schools, but has since grown, serving Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Lancaster, and surrounding counties.

Syndie Fleener is director of AIS at Independence, a school within a school that focuses on global education, a part of that being community service and this year, the hunger drive.

“This whole hunger drive is so fantastic,” Fleener said. “To see these teenagers get so involved in this.”

The school that donates the most will receive $2,500, and the runner-up $1,000. Other awards are given for most improved and student MVP, and each school that donates 5,000 pounds is given a $200 cash prize.

To date, the competition has donated 150,000 pounds of food in its two-year history, and last year, Ardrey Kell won the competition, donating 18,000 pounds. The competition kicked off with a talent show at Second Harvest, with hundreds of students attending and watching the other schools perform.

“It was fantastic to see hundreds of kids at the Second Harvest Food Bank—teenagers you know, really caring about the community,” Fleener said.

The competition lasts until November 14, when all the food will be weighed, and the winners announced. To date, Fleener says Independence hasn’t weighed their donations, but they’ve got 10 boxes of food, and the barrels that they use for donating are already full again.

“The kids have been wonderful,” Fleener said. “They’ve gone out into their communities and asked for donations—we have gotten so many donations. So far, it’s been really a big success.”

To donate, bring food to Independence High School anytime, preferably canned goods, or send the food in with a student.

To stay up to date on the hunger drive, follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hungerdrivecarolina.