Fair seeks to break Guinness World Record

Last summer, the Elkhart County 4H fair broke its own record for attendance. This year, fair organizers have their eyes set on an even bigger record to break: The Guinness World Record for the “largest food drive in 24 hours – single location.”

The current record was set in 2011 by the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, who collected 559,885 pounds of food in Durham, North Carolina.

“Our goal is to beat the record,” said Shelly Steury, food drive co-coordinator for the Elkhart County 4H Fair.

The fair announced the grand plan in June with the primary goal of helping pantries and food kitchens in Elkhart County. All of the donations will be distributed to various agencies through the Food Bank of Elkhart County and Church Community Services.

Rod Roberson, Executive Director of Church Community Services said staple items like peanut butter and canned vegetables are ideal donations because of their weight and nutritional value.

“Weight is good in this particular food drive because the world record is going to be difficult to break,” said Roberson.

Even if the drive doesn’t breach the 559,885 pound threshold, Roberson said it’s still a win because the local food pantries and kitchens will end up with all the donations.

In 2013, the Food Bank of Elkhart County distributed approximately 1.7 million pounds of food, meaning the anticipated world record would cover about one third of the organization’s annual output.

“We need to continue filling the pipelines to make sure people are eating, especially children. People forget that these pantries feed a lot of kids,” Roberson added. Food is just one component of what the food bank and Church Community Services do. Volunteers, staff and transportation are the other, equally important, components of helping the less fortunate in Elkhart County.

Steury said at least 30 local organizations including banks, supermarkets and churches started collecting food several weeks ago. Martin’s Super Market, Key Bank, First State Bank of Goshen, and the Boys & Girls Club of Goshen are among some of groups who have placed drop boxes at their locations.

The record-breaking attempt starts at 1:00 p.m. Sunday. Food will be weighed on large scales, recorded in a log, and essentially audited by a third party. To qualify for the world record the attempt must be recorded in its entirety and none of the food items can be expired.

Three tents will be set up at the drop-off location at Gate 2 of the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds, marked with signs to make it easier to find.

According to Steury, the world record attempt matches this year fair motto of going “all in.” She describes the 4H families and organizers as the type of people who are more than willing to help out others and give 100-percent, that’s why she expects fair goers to go “all in” when it comes to the food drive.

Monetary donations can also be made until Sunday at 4Hfair.org/fooddrive. Food donations will be collected during the fair parade for anyone not going to the fair Sunday afternoon.

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