MASON CITY - For the shoppers at Hy-Vee West in Mason City, the morning of Feb. 7 was not a typical day when 23 three-person teams representing area businesses met at 8 a.m. to compete in a food drive for Hawkeye Harvest Food Bank.
Sponsored by the Cerro Gordo County Farm Bureau, this was the fifth year for the Grab and Give event. Hawkeye Harvest Food Bank was contacted in advance so it could request what food items were needed.
The rules were that each team was to collect food into a grocery cart with the goal of coming as close to $250 in value as possible in five minutes. They could not use calculators or their phones to keep a running total. Not even paper and pencils.
THIS WAS HOW the Cerro Gordo County’s Grab and Give grocery event started on Feb. 7, at Hy-Vee West in Mason City. Area businesses sent teams to fill grocery carts with food to determine who could come closest totaling $250. All the food collected was paid for by the team business and donated to Hawkeye Harvest Food Bank.
They were to add just using their own mental abilities.
Teams had their strategies in place before the race began.
The team from Cerro Gordo County Farm Bureau, which hosted the event, looked for food items that had prices in whole dollars to make it easier to keep track of their total.
POET Biorefining Hanlontown's had a completely different approach. They decided to disregard the $250 goal and fill their carts with as much as food as they could in five minutes.
That team rang up $906.44 in groceries when they checked out for the high of the day for one team.
The competition was divided into two heats to minimize congestion. Penalties would be assessed in dollars for any team that knocked over a shopper or hindered another team.
At least 10 different kinds of grocery items were to be in the cart and carts had to be across the finish line at the end of five minutes to be counted.
The goal of being as close to $250 as possible included tax and any discounts.
When the two heats were completed and teams were enjoying coffee, juice and doughnuts courtesy of Hy-Vee in the store deli, Farm Bureau board president Eric Arthur announced the winners.
First place went to North Iowa Community Credit Union with a total amount of $249.80.
Second place went to ViaField Co-op with a total of $252.97.
The total of all groceries collected was $6400.61, far exceeding the goal of $5000.
Linda Anderegg, one of the event organizers and active in the Ag in the Classroom program, is hoping to have 30 teams for next year's Grab and Give in honor of her 30 years with Farm Bureau.
North Iowa businesses that sent teams were Auto Edge, Cargill Kitchen Solutions, CENT Credit Union, Cerro Gordo County Farm Bureau, Consolidated Energy, Farm Credit Services of America, First Citizens National Bank, Fox Auction Co., Golden Grain Energy, Helena/Cartersville Elevator, Hy-Vee West, KISS Country Radio, Mason City Red Power, MBT Bank, North Iowa Co-op, North Iowa Credit Union, Petroblend, Pioneer Group, POET Biorefining Hanlontown, Renewable Energy Group Inc., Stellar Truck and Trailer and Viafield.
Jeff Leerar, who was participating in his first Grab and Give as a member of Pioneer Seed's team, said he'd be there next year.
"It was a good experience," Leerar said. "I'd do it again."