High school students in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties on Tuesday donated 29,266 pounds of nonperishable items to the Lowcountry Food Bank.

That will provide 22,512 meals, said food solicitor Amy Kosar.

"By the end of next week, that will all be distributed to the community," she said.

For six weeks, 15 high schools across the Lowcountry have been collecting canned goods and other food items in an effort to bring in at least 5 pounds of food per student.

They collected from nearby elementary schools and held such events as car washes, silent auctions, campouts, dances, talent shows and more.

"It's really neat to see the food drive catching on with so many schools," said Miriam Coombes, Food Bank director of development and communication.

On Tuesday, Ashley Ridge High School was named the winner in the large schools division for collecting 7 pounds of food per student and Academic Magnet won the small schools, bringing in 6 pounds per student. Each school will receive a $1,000 cash prize donated by South Carolina Federal Credit Union's Young and Free program.

Runners up were Wando in the large school division and Berkeley Star Academy for small schools.

The Food Bank had hoped to collect 50,000 pounds during the drive.

"It was a very ambitious goal, more than double what we collected last year," Kosar said. "This just being our third year, we didn't know what we would get. We think we're off to a great start."

The drive was started by the Food Bank with grant money from Feeding America and Tyson Foods. The Food Bank has decided to continue the program even though the grant has ended, Kosar said.

"We will continue to do it in the future," she said. "It engages a demographic that we don't normally get to engage. The enthusiasm of these high schools is contagious. It's so refreshing to see high school students get excited about giving back."

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or on Facebook.