For the fifth year in a row, Higher One, Inc., broke its record for pounds of nonperishable food donated to local communities with a total of 5,400 pounds—a 25 percent increase over last year and 900 pounds more than the goal of 4,500 pounds.

The food was donated as part of an annual two-week competition, organized by Higher One CARES (Community Action for Resources Education and Service), that encourages employees to collect food for neighbors who can’t acquire basic foodstuffs on their own, whether they are elderly, disabled or economically disadvantaged. The food drive was held at Higher One’s offices in New Haven, Oakland, Buffalo and Atlanta, and all items collected by employees were donated to local food pantries. Employees in the New Haven office collected 4,454 pounds of food, which was delivered to FISH of Greater New Haven, a food pantry that does home delivery only. Atlanta employees collected 394 pounds for the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the Oakland office collected 313 pounds for the Alameda County Community Food Bank and Buffalo employees collected 250 pounds for the Food Bank of Western New York.

Patrick Pearson, a Higher One employee in the New Haven office who is the chairman of both Higher One CARES and FISH of Greater New Haven, attributes the great result to the company’s competitive spirit and employee passion for helping others. “We all love friendly competition, and there’s no better end result than when we can combine our competitive nature with our desire to help others,” Pearson said.

To encourage donations, Higher One CARES gave extra “weight points” for some food items. “There are specific items—such as cereal, peanut butter, jelly, soup, canned tuna, canned fruit, boxed pasta and juice boxes—that the food panties are in greater need of,” Pearson said. “So we put a little wrinkle in the competition—certain items were considered bonus items to incentivize employees to bring in those specific items.” Bonus items were counted at twice their weight for the purposes of the internal company competition totals—the totals donated to local charities were actual weight.

In addition to the food, Higher One also did a dollar-per-pound match, with FISH of New Haven getting $2,500, Alameda County Community Food Bank receiving $750, the Food Bank of Western New York getting $500 and the Atlanta Community Food Bank getting $250. The food was delivered in time for Thanksgiving.