Citadel cadet Justin Sullivan has never eaten ham hock.

But the sophomore from Springfield, Ohio, was part of a team sorting 4,500 pounds of them Wednesday at the Lowcountry Food Bank.

So was Ross Fowler, a sophomore from Union, who said ham hocks reminded him of his “grandma’s finest cooking,” which also included greens and green beans.

More than 2,000 students from the military college fanned out across the Lowcountry to volunteer for projects that serve the community.

It was Leadership Day, which is based on the idea that before people can lead, they must learn to follow and serve.

About 30 cadet volunteers worked at the Lowcountry Food Bank, sorting, sanitizing and repackaging food that will go to coastal organizations that feed the hungry.

By the end of the day, the cadets sorted 14,000 pounds of food, said Miriam Coombes, the food bank’s vice president of development and communication.

Citadel sophomore Edward Mabry was among a group inspecting and sorting numerous stacks of bread.

“It doesn’t stop,” he said.

Coombes said the organization, which will distribute 19 million pounds of food to more than 200,000 hungry people this year, couldn’t function without volunteers. And the help is especially important this time of year. Fall is a busy time for food banks, she said, as donations increase in preparation for the holidays.

Citadel cadets don’t help only on Leadership Day, Coombes said, many volunteer regularly.

Citadel officials said that for Leadership Day, students volunteered at about 15 elementary schools and 30 community organizations. About a dozen teams also conducted on-campus activities for various groups.

The public and community groups benefit from the experience, but the students who volunteer also benefit, said Conway Saylor, director of service learning at the school’s Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics.

“Our cadets leave campus with a vague idea that they somehow want to help someone, or want to knock out a requirement, and they come back fired up about making a difference in their communities,” Saylor said.

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.