Neighbors step up to help feed hungry people
With the global economy still precarious, unemployed, low-income and people living in poverty are finding it ever more difficult to provide ample nutritious food for their families. In direct response to the challenge of increasing access to nutritious food for hungry people around the corner and around the world, humanitarian agency Church World Service announces the opening of its Fall 2010 CROP Hunger Walk season.
Church World Service Fall CROP Hunger Walks begin throughout the country
Editors: Photos to accompany this story can be downloaded at http://www.churchworldservice.org/hires
Families and individuals in more than 2,000 communities across the U.S. join in CROP Hunger Walks -- to end hunger one step at a time. Photo: Kathy Hansen
With the global economy still precarious, unemployed, low-income and people living in poverty are finding it ever more difficult to provide ample nutritious food for their families. In direct response to the challenge of increasing access to nutritious food for hungry people around the corner and around the world, CROP Hunger Walks are gearing up to make a difference.
Organized by communities and local congregations throughout the United States, the community-wide events to raise funds to help end hunger and poverty are getting underway in cities and towns across the country.
CROP Hunger Walks raise $15 million annually.
“Viewed by many as the granddaddy of charity walks,” according to the Los Angeles Times, CROP Hunger Walks are the only charity walks in the nation whose participants raise money both to help food pantries and hunger fighting programs in their own communities and to help fund sustainable agriculture and food and nutrition security programs in developing countries.
The 2010-11 CROP Hunger Walks are using the anti-hunger anthem "Raise Your Voice," by Oklahoma folk singer-songwriter K.C. Clifford, who wrote the song to support the efforts of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and has performed it on national television. Clifford, who says "hunger is an issue that is close to my heart," has committed "to do what I can to help others who are struggling."
According to the World Food Program, more than a billion people in the world do not have enough to eat. Each year people in more than 2,000 communities across the U.S. join together in some 1,600 CROP Hunger Walks, reflecting the determination of ordinary people from faith communities, civic organizations and businesses to end the scourge of hunger and malnutrition at home and abroad, one step at a time.
In Syracuse, N.Y., where the population is approximately 138,000, 30 percent -- or 37,318 individuals -- live in poverty, says the New York State Community Action Association 2010 Poverty Report. That level is more than two times higher than the statewide poverty rate of 13 percent.
For the people of Syracuse already registered to walk in the city’s four scheduled CROP events in October, those numbers represent not just statistics but neighbors, friends, children and even strangers who need help. Says Upstate New York Regional Director Doug Anderson, "This is why we do what we do." More than 100 additional CROP Hunger Walks are scheduled in cities throughout the state during September, October and November.
The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina reports that in its 34-county service area, more than 480,000 individuals are at risk for hunger. Nearly 30 percent are children and 18 percent are elderly. Another 38 percent are the "working poor" in households that simply do not earn enough to make ends meet.
In response, more than 22,000 North Carolinians joined their local CROP Hunger Walks and raised $1,216,670 in 2009 to help nearly 100 food banks, food pantries and meal sites across the state and to support hunger fighting programs worldwide.
This year CROP Hunger Walks will share almost $4 million with food banks, pantries, community gardens and other local efforts across the U.S.
Meanwhile, in the Dominican Republic, some of the proceeds from CROP Hunger Walks in the U.S. also are helping families whose food supplies are threatened by drought, flooding and hurricanes find durable agriculture solutions. The food security project in 24 rural communities is similar to projects run by Church World Service local partners in other developing nations.
Church World Service's work also includes response to disasters such as the earthquake that devastated Haiti. As part of its Haiti recovery efforts, CWS is expanding its support for a program to improve Haitians’ access to affordable food by working with local food cooperatives.
In the wake of the Pakistan flooding, Church World Service is providing medical care through the use of mobile health units and is providing temporary shelter and family food packages to flood-affected families. Through support for construction trades training centers, CWS will be equipping families and communities to rebuild.
In places like Kenya, Indonesia and Vietnam, all of which have serious water access issues, CWS' work with local partners to improve access to and management of water resources for hygiene, cattle and agriculture, is helping to decrease local hunger and poverty.
The reasons for hunger, from the global recession to crop-destroying natural disasters, high food prices and poverty, vary from community to community and family to family, but one factor is a constant wherever hunger and malnutrition exist: Children suffer the most, particularly children under age three. Insufficient nourishment -- not just food, but food that contains the variety of nutrients, vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy growth -- has debilitating effects on young children, ranging from poor performance in school to sickness or even death.
By raising funds to help stock local food pantries in communities where CROP Hunger Walks are held and to help fund global programs that provide food, nutrition supplements, and sustainable agriculture projects in developing countries, CROP Hunger Walkers bring us closer to the day when no one lives with hunger or malnutrition.
The CROP Hunger Walk season continues through the fall months, with a new series of events scheduled in the spring. Locations and dates for Fall 2010 events across the country are online at cropwalkonline.org. Walkers raise money both face-to-face and online. Registration and donation information are online at www.cropwalk.org or by calling the CWS/CROP Regional Office, toll-free at 888-CWS-CROP (888-297-2767).