It’s not just Woodstock Festival being celebrated for 50 years. Crop Hunger Walk is celebrating 50 years of continuously contributing toward ending hunger. The Crop Hunger Walk is one of the first charity walks in the nation. Today, it is known as the granddaddy of them all.
My recollections of CROP actually go back before the walk part started. When it began in 1947 (under the wing of Church World Service (CWS), CROP was an acronym for the Christian Rural Overseas Program. Its primary mission was to help Midwest farm families to share their grain with hungry neighbors in post-World War II Europe and Asia. I still remember riding with my father around the neighborhood in our dented, red Ford pickup truck collecting ear corn for CROP.
Many remember the 1960s as a decade of music festivals, protests and youthful energy driving society towards something better. Part of that “better” meant ending hunger, which is why, in 1969, a group of teens in Bismarck, North Dakota, dreamed up what would later be known as the CROP Hunger Walk. Each walker raised funds to create solutions for hunger. The first walk was a huge success, setting the precedent for charity walks around the nation.
Fifty years later, that legacy continues. Millions of people in hundreds of communities across the United State have picked up the mantle to fight hunger over the years through the Crop Hunger Walk. Still sponsored by CWS, the Crop Hunger Walk raises over $8 million annually, providing nutritious food both in the United State and around the world. For our walk, 25% of the funds will remain local in support of People In Need (PIN).
And the need is still great. After years of progress, hunger is on the rise. Roughly one in nine people goes to bed each night on an empty stomach. We’re up against new weather patterns, shifting seasons, armed conflicts and more — all of which makes our collective food systems more vulnerable. It’s not just an international crisis, either; here in the United States, 12 percent of households face food insecurity, and the number is higher for households with children. It’s often a hidden challenge, but the CROP Hunger Walk brings it into full view so that these children won’t face a lifetime of unseen struggles.
It’s still a big dream, but with the help of every person, we can fight for stable and healthy food systems. It’s a future we all want, and the reach of hunger will only increase unless we do something now. We call on the people of Delaware to join this fight.
The walks are shorter (some of us are getting older), but the energy to fight global hunger is still strong as it was in 1969. In fact, you do not have to walk to support CROP. At our website, https://www.crophungerwalk.org/delawareoh/, you can both register to walk as an individual, register as a team (maybe for your church or organization), or make a contribution to support our walkers and CROP. If they have registered, you can even select a person or team to support! The Delaware Crop Walk will take place on Oct. 6 at 2 p.m. On-site registration will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Hamilton Williams Campus Center at Ohio Wesleyan University.
On behalf of the Delaware Ministerial Alliance, I have agreed to be the CROP coordinator for this year. If you have questions, need promotional materials, or do not want to use the website, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] or 614 595 1009.
Carry on this 50-year legacy of fighting hunger! Join the Delaware CROP Hunger Walk!
Robert J. Gustafson, Ph.D., P.E, is pastor of West Berlin Presbyterian Church, 2911 Berlin Station Road.