On May 1, Project Bread hosted the nonprofit’s 54th annual Walk for Hunger, held virtually for the third consecutive year, to raise funds to help get food assistance to kids and families across the Commonwealth. More than 1,600 virtual participants hit the pavement in their neighborhoods and rallied supporters to raise $1 million for the cause. Fundraising for the event will continue through June 30.
“Food insecurity didn’t start with the pandemic, and it won’t end with it. But as effects of the pandemic begin to wane, we are also seeing the end of so many of the measures put in place that have helped provide hunger relief,” says Erin McAleer, CEO of Project Bread. “There are still 1 in 6 household in Massachusetts struggling to afford food. That’s what make it so critical for our community to come together to fight hunger this year. Participating in Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger is one way we can all do something tangible to make sure our neighbors have access to their most basic need—food. It is people coming together to take action that inspires us all to return year after year.”
True to its grassroots beginnings, The Walk for Hunger unites community partners, business leaders, walkers, volunteers, public officials, media and residents of all backgrounds together for a cause. Money raised through the virtual Walk is funding Project Bread’s urgent mission to ensure kids have reliable access to food, to directly help individuals and families, and to advocate at the state and federal levels for expedited and efficient hunger relief. Walk funds are also supporting community organizations helping people access food locally and ensuring communities have the resources necessary to respond to the hunger crisis now and over the long road to recovery ahead.
Partner organizations participated in The Walk for Hunger’s Commonwealth program by forming teams to raise funds directly for their own anti-hunger programs, while also furthering Project Bread’s statewide effort. This year 35 nonprofits participated in The Commonwealth, raising more than $168,000 and counting.
Historically, The Walk for Hunger, the nation’s oldest continual pledge walk, takes place the first Sunday of May on the Boston Common. This year’s event included virtual programming with McAleer and Project Bread staff, as well as walkers and volunteers who posted and shared their experiences along their neighborhood routes and why they were walking to help end hunger.
During the online livestream, the nonprofit’s most distinguished award, the Patrick Hughes Award for Social Justice was presented to Brittany Mangini, Director of Food Security and Nutrition at the Department of Transitional Assistance, and Robert Leshin, Director of the Office for Food and Nutrition Programs at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The award recognizes individuals with an unyielding commitment to driving meaningful change by addressing the causes of hunger, thus carrying forward the spirit of the event’s founder, Patrick Hughes.
“Our walk community always inspires us,” says McAleer, who joined Project Bread Advisory Council members Saadia Ali and Sonya Khan, Team InstaCart at the Museum of Science, and Commonwealth team Waltham Fields Community Farm at different points throughout the day. “The people of Massachusetts showed up in a big way for this event because people care about this issue. No one should go without enough to eat. From hosting events on local farms, to doing team fitness challenges, to meeting up with remote coworkers and hiking or walking long distances spread out over the last couple months, people continually have found creative ways to raise money to help those who really need it. Their efforts speak to the potential we have as a community when we work together to drive change and that is a message that resonates with everyone.”
Donations and personal fundraisers will continue to be made through June 30. To support The Walk for Hunger, visit: www.projectbread.org/walk.
People experiencing food insecurity should call Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline (1-800-645-8333), which provides confidential, free assistance getting connected to a variety of food resources in 180 languages and for the hearing impaired. Counselors can pre-screen families and help them to apply for SNAP. Learn more at www.projectbread.org/get-help.
Project Bread, the leading statewide anti-hunger nonprofit, connects people and communities in Massachusetts to reliable sources of food while advocating for policies that make food more accessible—so that no one goes hungry. For more information, visit: www.projectbread.org.