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Cram the Van winners announced
COURTESY PHOTO Shown are students at Central Kansas Christian Academy. The school took first place in Wheatland Electric’s Cram the Van this year.
COURTESY PHOTO After Wheatland Electric’s Cram the Van, a check for over $700 was presented to the Food Bank of Barton County. Pictured left to right are Dax Walk, Mark Kircher, Bob Essmiller, Dan Haselhorst and Tyson Ryff.

As Wheatland Electric’s sixth year of Cram the Van comes to an end, it was a record-breaking year, organizers said. The Great Bend community united to collect 10,288 pounds of food for the Community Food Bank of Barton County through participation in four events. 

This total nearly doubled Great Bend’s 2018 donation total of 5,852 pounds. In all, Wheatland Electric collected over 30,750 pounds of food in 2019 throughout all of its service territory. 

Over the course of the six years that Cram the Van has been taking place, the total amount of food collected and distributed to local food banks has been 95,527 pounds or nearly 48 tons of food.

For the third year, the Hiss-Sherman Wealth Management Group sponsored the Great Bend School Competition from Oct. 10-17. Through collaboration with USD 428 schools, Holy Family Elementary, and Central Kansas Christian Academy, the students brought in nearly 8,000 pounds of food during this week-long competition. Last year, this competition raised nearly 5,500 pounds of food, so Wheatland Electric was very impressed with this increase in participation, company officials said.

Central Kansas Christian Academy claimed first place and received $500 for their efforts in collecting an average of nearly 12.3 pounds of food donations per student. Riley Elementary School received $300 for their second-place victory. Riley increased their total pounds donated by over 1700 lbs. this year! Jefferson Elementary narrowly captured third place ($200) in front of Park Elementary who received $100 for their fourth-place finish. This year, Hiss-Sherman Wealth Management also gave $50 to any school who increased their average pounds per student donated over last year’s amount. Eisenhower Elementary and Great Bend High School both claimed this prize. 

The additional 2,200-plus pounds of food came from three other Great Bend community events that Wheatland Electric hosted. Nearly 1,000 pounds was collected at the Great Bend Tribune’s Women’s Expo in early September. The additional 1,200 pounds of donations were collected on October 18th from two events – the office lunch and donations at the Great Bend High School football game tailgate event.