Five decades of fighting hunger

In an effort to raise money to combat hunger locally and around the globe, the annual CROP (Christian Rural Overseas Program) Hunger Walk will take place Sunday, Oct. 6, in Osgood, with a recruiters' meeting Aug. 20 (please see box).

The walk "was started 50 years ago by a group of energized young people in Bismarck, North Dakota, who wanted to mobilize their community to fight global hunger," reports Sandy Gruell, St. Peter's United Church of Christ, Osgood, pastor. "Today, the CROP Hunger Walk is a national movement raising funds for the global hunger-fighting work of Church World Service and local hunger-fighting agencies. Last year, over 800 events raised over $8.3 million dollars to help end hunger."

In Ripley County, the first one was started in the 1980s by Pastor Juanita Connerley-Wallpe of St. John's UCC, Penntown, "to help support local food pantries. It is a 6.2-mile walk, but participants are encouraged to not walk anymore than they can handle, especially if they have health issues."

"Twenty-five percent of all money raised goes to the Batesville, Delaware, Milan and Sunman food pantries while 75 percent goes to Church World Service to help fight hunger in the U.S. and abroad," she reveals.

"Your participation impacts individuals and families in more than 30 countries. In many developing nations, people walk as many as six miles a day to get food and water. One in nine people worldwide lack access to clean water and a healthy diet. In walking as they walk, our steps take on meaning. We walk to be in solidarity with their struggle.

"And hunger is not just an issue in other countries. In the 2017, 40 million people in the U.S. suffered from food insecurity, and the proportion of hungry people in the U.S. and the world is increasing every day. Schools now serve breakfast because kids are coming to school hungry and some even send nonperishable food home with kids on the weekends. Many churches and other organizations have started summer feeding programs because they have seen the need for hungry kids to be fed during the summer when they no longer have access to food that the school provides.

"Hunger lives right in our own neighborhood; everyone knows someone or some family that is struggling with hunger, which makes walking for hunger even more important," Gruell points out.

Last year, the local event had over 75 walkers and raised more than $9,000. "In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the national CROP Hunger Walk, Ripley County (organizers have) ... set a goal to raise at least $15,000 .... We encourage all churches, businesses and organizations to walk or to sponsor a walker with a donation and help to fight hunger."

Diane Raver can be contacted at diane.raver@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 220114.

How to help

• A meeting will be held Tuesday, Aug. 20, at 6:30 p.m. at St. Peter's UCC, 1463 W. County Road 700 N., Osgood. "If you are interested in being a recruiter for your church or organization, please come ... and pick up the recruiters' package, which will contain envelopes for walkers, a poster and informative flyers about the CROP Hunger Walk, along with other information. Any questions you may have may be asked at that time," Gruell says. Those interested in participating who cannot attend this meeting can contact Gruell at 812-852-4503. "Leave a message with a contact number so that arrangements can be made to get you a packet."

• The walk is Sunday, Oct. 6, at 1:30 p.m. with registration at 1 p.m. at the church. "The Keith Swinney Band will be kicking off our walk from 12:45-1:30 p.m. After the walkers finish, they are invited to enjoy cake, cookies, fruit, etc., in the fellowship hall. All walkers will receive a free CROP Walk 50th anniversary T-shirt donated by Crum Trucking." Donations can also be made online at crophungerwalk.org by clicking on 'Search' and typing in Ripley County CROP Hunger Walk.

• For more information, Gruell can also be contacted at 765-932-4749 or Sandrasgruell@gmail.com.