On May 7, Many Angels Needed Now and Always (MANNA), will be among over 3,000 participants to lace up for Project Bread’s 55th annual Walk for Hunger. For the second consecutive year, the Boston-based nonprofit will raise money to fight hunger. They are participating in The Commonwealth Program, which gives organizations addressing food insecurity 60% of all funds they have raised to support their own hunger relief programs, with the remaining 40% applied to Project Bread’s statewide anti-hunger effort. To date, Project Bread has awarded over $1,000 to MANNA.
Beginning in 1969, as the first pledge walk in the nation, Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger brings together a diverse community dedicated to creating change. On Sunday May 7th, the annual fundraiser returns to Boston Common after 3 years of being virtual due to COVID-19 safety precautions. This rite of passage for people in Massachusetts returns in its 55th year with a shorter route and a fresh look. The mission of the time-honored tradition will never change. The fundraising goal this year is over $1 million dollars.
“Right now, 1 in every 5 households with children in Massachusetts is struggling without enough to eat,” according to Erin McAleer, CEO of statewide anti-hunger organization Project Bread. She notes the number of families with children unable to afford food among Black, brown, and immigrant households, it’s disproportionately higher. “Hunger in Massachusetts is simply unacceptable,” McAleer says. “This is a solvable problem but every single one of us needs to do our part. We all must take action. The work MANNA does reflects what The Walk is all about—stepping up to benefit our friends, neighbors, and family members in Massachusetts who cannot meet the most basic of human needs: food. The MANNA walk team understands hunger is an injustice and they are doing something about it. That is powerful.”
MANNA is a community with and for people experiencing homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse disorders. Identified as a faith community, the organization seeks to provide nourishment through shared meals, emotional and spiritual support, and prayer. The community is diverse in culture, gender, sexual identity, housed and unhoused. Each time the community meets, MANNA serves between 35 and 75 people. Programs of the organization include community meetings to share resources, light breakfast Sunday through Tuesday, community lunch and worship every Monday, a writer’s group, and meditation. Their 25-person Walk for Hunger team hopes to raise $1,000 to fight food insecurity in Massachusetts and support their own food ministry to help serve people facing extreme food scarcity.
“The Walk for Hunger is a highlight of the year for our community,” says Rev. Jennifer McCracken, MANNA’s Pastor. “It is a way for us to give back to the community that supports us. Project Bread’s mission is vital to support those experiencing hunger. We have witnessed the importance of proper nourishment to the body to support physical and emotional health. The Walk for Hunger allows us to do something great together for the greater good and have a great time doing it!”
Money raised through the Walk for Hunger is critical to Project Bread’s statewide work to ensure kids reliably have enough to eat, provide one-on-one support for individuals and families who need food assistance, and work to prevent hunger in the first place by eliminating barriers to resources and implementing policies that make food more accessible. In keeping with the community-spirit of the event, the Walk also provides a platform for organizations, like MANNA, to fund the vital work they do fighting hunger locally. The Commonwealth, a joint fundraising program, Project Bread launched in 2019. In 2022, 36 nonprofits raised more than $123,000 to support their own programs.
This year’s event will include remarks by McAleer as well as family-friendly activations on the Boston Common, such as live music, photo booths, giveaways and raffle prizes, lawn games, and a Kids’ Zone with balloon animals and face painting. Families with kids, community groups, individuals, and teams of corporate employees are encouraged to find creative ways to fundraise and join us on Boston Common for the new 3-mile route and for an exciting day of celebration. Project Bread will continue to engage virtual participants this year, inviting anyone interested to register and walk their own way from wherever they are.
To register as a participant for Project Bread’s The Walk for Hunger, or to support a walker or team with a donation, visit projectbread.org/walk or call (617) 723-5000.There is no registration fee or fundraising minimum to participate. Participants who raise $500 or more are recognized as Heart & Sole walkers, and receive access to personalized fundraising support, exclusive event gear, and invitations to events.
People experiencing food insecurity should call into Project Bread’s toll-free FoodSource Hotline (1-800-645-8333), which provides confidential assistance to connect with food resources, including SNAP benefits, in 180 languages and for the hearing impaired. For more information, visit: www.projectbread.org/get-help.