By Katherine Long
Sun associate editor
Hunger is the world’s number one health risk, killing more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, according to the United Nations World Food Program. It is sobering that in a world capable of feeding all, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 925 million people, 98% of whom live in developing countries, do not have enough to eat.
Central New Yorkers will take steps to change that this fall as they participate in 25 CROP Hunger Walks across Onondaga, Madison, Cayuga and Oswego Counties. The walks, sponsored by international relief and development organization Church World Service (CWS), raise funds to support efforts to end hunger; each participant secures donations from sponsors prior to walking the three-mile courses that make up these interfaith, non-competitive events. Since the first Central New York CROP Walks were held in 1977, walkers have raised approximately $4 million. Organizers anticipate some 3,000 CNY walkers will participate this year, including many parishioners from the Syracuse Diocese, and they hope to raise about $175,000.
Sister Gloria DeCotis, CSJ, is coordinating walkers from St. Vincent’s Church in Syracuse, who will participate in the downtown CROP Walk on Oct. 16. The parish has a strong turnout each year, and this year she is expecting about 50 young people and 40 adults.
She said walking is a tangible way of “showing concern for the poor, a sign of compassion for those less fortunate.” The walks are a way for those in the U.S. to help their brothers and sisters struggling with hunger in developing nations, she said.
But the CROP Walks also help here at home, where hunger is a growing problem. The “Hunger in America 2010” study commissioned by Feeding America, and the resulting local study “Hunger in Central and Northern New York,” revealed that the number of people turning to member emergency food programs in Central and Northern New York has been on the rise since 2006 and that more than 2.2 million New York State residents, including more than 830,000 children, turn to emergency food programs each year.
Twenty-five percent of the funds raised through each walk in Central New York will go to designated local programs, including the Interreligious Food Consortium, Meals on Wheels and food pantries like the Mustard Seed, run by St. James Church in Cazenovia.
“This calendar year has brought a bigger demand,” said Mustard Seed outreach worker Ron Huftalen. The Mustard Seed will receive a portion of the funds raised through the Oct. 16 CROP Walk in Cazenovia, which will be used to purchase food for the pantry and to supplement the baskets handed out to pantry clients at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Janet Munroe, who is helping to coordinate CROP walkers from St. James, is expecting to have about 70 participants in all, including roughly 40 confirmation students. She said the reasons for supporting the walks are “very biblical and very obvious,” but the biggest motivator was the idea of helping to “build a world where there’s enough for all. This is putting faith into action.”
The majority of this year’s CROP Hunger Walks will take place on World Food Day, Sunday, Oct. 16, and it is not too late to offer support. Anyone can help by joining a walk, sponsoring a walker, volunteering time at a walk or donating directly to CWS/CROP Walk. Visit www.cropwalkonline.org to find local walks and walkers and to learn more.
Information from the 2010 Hunger Study has been provided by the Food Bank of Central New York. We acknowledge that they are the source of this information and graciously thank them for their assistance in providing this information and allowing us to use it.