The teams are set. The players are primed. Fierce competitors are lining up on the opposite sides of Myrtle Street, which divides their territories, ready to do battle on the squishy tundra of Grays Harbor County. Yes, Food Ball 2016 has arrived.
Once again, in a contest that’s now been waged over 35 years, teams of students from Aberdeen and Hoquiam high schools will square off in a contest that will determine not just bragging rights for another year, but do a lot of good for area residents in need.
The goal of each team is to outdo the other in the collection of nonperishable food items and cash for Aberdeen and Hoquiam food banks. Coastal Harvest, a Hoquiam based distribution center that delivers food to more than 50 food banks, senior centers, tribal centers and feeding programs across southwest Washington, donates staff and trucks to the schools for collecting and sorting.
Aberdeen’s squad is under the direction of ASB supervisor, teacher and tennis coach Ashley Kohlmeier. For Hoquiam, it’s Bonnie Jump, ASB supervisor, teacher and leadership adviser. Their teams will hit the field Friday and won’t stop until Nov. 14 when team totals are revealed and a winner announced at 5 p.m. at the Grays Harbor PUD office.
Totals in past years have been staggering. Each dollar the teams earn counts as 10 pounds of food. The total from the 2014 contest was nearly 900,000 pounds; last year’s total topped 800,000 pounds. For the record, Hoquiam has taken the Food Ball title the past six years in a row.
The schools split up territory to canvass, seeking cash and food donations, sometimes at store fronts, others door-to-door. The schools alternate at their two major canvassing areas; on even days, Hoquiam will be at Safeway and Aberdeen will be at Walmart. On odd days the opposite is true. “At Safeway, students promote selling donation bags of food for $10 each,” said Jump. Other collection places for the teams include Bi-Mart, Ross and Swanson’s.
Aberdeen will kick off with its Friday Food Ball Extravaganza at the school from 5 to 8 p.m., featuring a carnival, games, a taco bar, silent auction and basketball with the varsity squad. Hoquiam takes over Franco’s Taqueria at 501 Simpson from 4 to 7 p.m. The business will share some of its profits on that day. Events are planned by each school every day of the contest except Nov. 11, a day off in observance of Veterans Day. Hoquiam High School’s 2016 Food Ball calendar can be found at facebook.com/Hoquiamfoodball2016. For Aberdeen’s, go to twitter.com/WeAre_Aberdeen.