It’s a cause bigger than football.

High school football fans attending the annual clash between Connellsville and Uniontown tonight will have a chance to help feed those in need.

State Reps. Matt Dowling, R-Uniontown, and Ryan Warner, R-Perryopolis, will be conducting a food drive challenge during the Coal Bucket game between Uniontown and Connellsville for the third straight year.

Warner and Dowling will each have a table set up at the main entrance of Bill Power Stadium at Uniontown Area High School prior to the game and are asking the public to bring nonperishable food items to donate to the table of the team of their choice.

Dowling’s table will represent Uniontown, and donations made to his table will go to the Fayette County Community Action Agency Food Bank, which food bank project manager Dave Bork said distributes around 2 million pounds of food every year.

Fayette County’s food insecurity rate of 14.6% was second-highest among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties behind only Philadelphia County according to Feeding America.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has defined food insecurity as limited access to food due to a lack of money or other resources.

“Supporting the FCCAA Food Bank is vital to fighting hunger and reducing the number of residents who are food insecure,” Dowling said.

Warner’s table will represent Connellsville, and donations made to his table will benefit the Connellsville Area Community Ministries food pantry, which Warner said serves between 300 and 500 families a month.

“Their efforts, along with outstanding support from our community, have been tremendous in fighting hunger in our region,” Warner said.

Dowling is a Uniontown alumnus whose legislative district includes most of the Uniontown Area School District, while Warner’s legislative district covers most of the Connellsville Area School District.

The challenge is to see which team will collect the food donations.

The gridiron winner between Connellsville and Uniontown will claim the Coal Bucket Trophy, and the game is slated for tonight at 7 p.m. at Bill Power Stadium.

Donation tables will be up and running at 6 p.m., and while Connellsville holds a 38-36-9 advantage in the football rivalry, the most meaningful gains garnered won’t come from the gridiron.

“(N)o matter the outcome of the game, the community will still benefit from the food donations we collected,” Dowling said.

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