Preparation was a key Thursday for the winner of the 13th annual Race for Hunger at the Piggly Wiggly food store in Zion.
Lake Villa Township Supervisor Jeff Lee set a record by grabbing nearly $1,574 worth of food from the shelves during the eight-minute race.
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Challenger Pat Oaks, Wauconda Township assessor, tallied about $1,234 in the competition sponsored by the Lake County Farm Bureau.
"They went to the store ahead of time and scoped out the aisles and knew where they wanted to go," said Greg Koeppen, farm bureau manager. "They both did their homework."
The efforts were made more impressive in that the products had to be nonperishable and contain corn, soybeans, wheat or oats. That meant lobster tails and fillets, for example, could not be targeted to pad the totals.
The pickers each filled several carts and went heavy on cereals, pasta, and baby formula, although there was a limit of two of any specific item.
"They couldn't just wipe out the Frosted Flakes," Koeppen joked.
The Farm Bureau bought all the groceries, minus a 10 percent discount from Piggly Wiggly, and will distribute the food to the food pantries in Lake Villa and Wauconda townships. The grocery store also contributed 20 individual family meals.
The event is held to raise awareness of Food Check Out Week, which celebrates the work of farmers and ranchers. But the real winners were the pantries, according to Koeppen.
"Ultimately, it makes people remember they (less fortunate) don't only need food at Christmas and Thanksgiving," Koeppen said.