GRUNDY, Va. -

The Buchanan County Chamber of Commerce has again been named the small chamber membership division winner in the 2013 Governor’s Food Bowl Challenge, winning the statewide event in its division for the second year in a row.

The Buchanan chamber collected the equivalent in food and funds of almost 19,000 pounds of food to benefit area food pantries on its way to win the 2013 title. Additionally, the chamber was named the small membership division per capita winner, collecting an average 170 pounds of food per chamber member.

More than 100 chambers across the state and more than 60 state government agencies participated in the five-week competition that began on Memorial Day and ended on Independence Day. The 2013 competition raised the equivalent of more than 400,000 pounds of food to benefit the more than 1 million individuals served by Virginia food banks. Through the challenge, donations could be in the form of canned goods, or funds. Each dollar raised was valued as four pounds of food according to the statewide competition rules.

"We were thrilled to learn that we won the challenge for 2013," said Buchanan County Chamber Executive Director Mary Belcher. "We felt good about our 2013 effort as we tallied our collection totals and determined that at 18,995 pounds, we had exceeded the 17,694 pounds we collected in 2012 to win the statewide challenge. What makes it special is that while we received the statewide recognition as a chamber, we did so for a project which in the end benefits our friends and neighbors here at home."

As part of the 2013 competition, the chamber again held an intra-chamber challenge which saw businesses in the chamber recognized for the efforts of their employees in collecting food and funds to benefit the drive. Six R Realty was recognized as the Buchanan small membership winner, collecting the equivalent of 1,333.32 pounds of food; West River Conveyors was the medium membership winner, collecting the equivalent of 2,118.39 pounds; CONSOL Energy was the large membership winner, collecting the equivalent of 6,987.80 pounds. TruPoint Bank was recognized with the community partnership award, collecting the equivalent of 3,477.43 pounds.

The chamber office also hosted four food drives including those held at Wal Mart, Garden Day, Save A Lot and Food City, collecting the equivalent of 2,726.62 pounds to benefit the 2013 drive.

Additional Buchanan chamber businesses participating in the 2013 drive included Sykes Enterprises, the Virginia Mountaineer, Southwest Virginia Professional Insurance, Appalachian Family Care and the Appalachian School of Law.

"We appreciate the efforts of all those who took the time to collect food and funds for this year’s governor’s food bowl challenge," said Cathy St. Clair, Buchanan County Chamber of Commerce president. "The win speaks to the generosity of our local businesses and their employees and to this community."

All of the 2012 winners in the statewide competition were repeat Governor’s Bowl champions. Back-to-back winners in addition to the Buchanan chamber were Greater Augusta in the medium membership division, collecting the equivalent of 115,529 pounds and Greater Richmond in the large membership division, collecting the equivalent of 17,296 pounds. The Charlottesville Regional Chamber earned the per capita award for the large chamber division, collecting 17 pounds per person.

State agency winners included the (small) Office of the Governor, 9.096 pounds; Virginia Board of Accountancy, 337 pounds per person; (medium) Department of Motor Vehicles, 28,560 pounds; Department of Environmental Quality, 21 pounds per person; and (large) Department of Corrections, 19,698 pounds, 1.71 pounds per person.

The competition is organized regionally.  Food collected in Southwest Virginia was donated to Feeding America Southwest Virginia, which operates a food bank in Abingdon, supplying local food pantries, as well as a mobile food pantry distribution program in Buchanan County.

"Earlier this summer I renewed my challenge to Virginia’s business community and state agencies to compete in good fun for a worthwhile cause," said Gov. Bob McDonnell in announcing the 2013 challenge winners. "We could not do it without our partners at each Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Food Banks and our teams of state employees."

Representatives of the winning chambers will be invited to attend a special event in Richmond in October to accept their 2013 food bowl challenge awards.