MADISON (WKOW) -- With Thanksgiving just around the corner, hundreds of UW students are coming together to fight hunger in Dane County.
The third annual Red and White Hunger Fight wrapped up Wednesday night.
This campus-wide food drive will give food to more than 500 families in the Madison area next week. It's a community-wide effort to help a community in need.
About 6,600 pounds of food have been generously donated by the Madison community and collected by these UW students.
"The Madison community, how generous they are to donate this much food," Michele Dalton says, "it's hard for everybody. Not everyone has the money they were used to and for people to go out with a food drive in mind and a willingness to donate is really cool."
The Red and White Hunger Fight was started by Michele Dalton three years ago.
The six-week food drive started Homecoming weekend and ended Wednesday night. These students are volunteering their time to sort all this food before it's delivered to the Community Action Coalition.
Chris Brockel is the manager for the Food and Gardens Division of Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin. He says, "We coordinate Dane County Food Pantry Network, food goes out to those pantries, we police the supply and figure out who needs what and make sure they get it."
Brockel says the need in the Madison area is greater than ever. Evidence of struggling families is seen in the following statistics. In 2007, Dane County served 85,000 households. In 2008, they served 99,700 households. In 2009, they served 117,500 households. This year, they're estimating they'll serve 130,000 households. That's a 50 percent increase since 2007.
For Dalton, it's a sight she could only dream of three years ago. Her idea to create a Thanksgiving food drive has turned into so much more.
Dalton says, "It's a good feeling, it's pretty cool to see all the work, not just myself but all the volunteers have put in."
Unfortunately, all that food won't last long. After the New Year, the pantries will once again struggle to fill their shelves, so it's important to remember there's a need all year round.
The students loaded all that food onto two semi trucks. Next week, the CAC will deliver all the food to all 51 Dane County pantries.