All of New Milford's public schools play host to food drives throughout the year.

Hill and Plain School is taking it a step farther by participating in the A+ School Rewards Fighting Hunger Challenge, sponsored by Stop & Shop, according to Principal Len Tomasello.

"When parents from Hill and Plain shop at Stop & Shop and have their Stop & Shop card linked to our school, we get `points' for every dollar spent," he said.

Each spring, the store gives the school a check reflecting dollars earned.

This year, Stop & Shop introduced a Fighting Hunger Challenge contest for schools in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey.

"Each competing school was asked to choose a local, not-for-profit food bank, soup kitchen or food pantry, and conduct a food drive," Tomasello said.

"The schools were then directed to build a unique and creative display, using the donated products, to be placed in a prominent area of the school," he said.

Hill and Plain's display, a collaborative effort between teachers and paraeducators, is called "Bridging the Gap to End Hunger." It even features vehicles donated by the school's EXCEL classes.

Six winning schools -- of which the school is one -- will receive $1,000 to be added to the earned "points" at the end of the year.

"Because of the high interest in the contest, our school community donated more than 400 food items in the first month, which is more than four times the number of items for any other month," Tomasella said. "We are so pleased to have won the contest and are very appreciative of the level of participation in each month's drive," he said.

"Our local food bank is the true winner."