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Annual Hunger Walk brings community together to support local food pantry

Submitted by mmoreno on Tue, 09/24/2019 - 14:47

By:Tina Bryson

MOUNT VERNON, Ky. — The community came out to support the 8th Annual Hunger Walk, sponsored by Christian Appalachian Project’s Grateful Bread Food Pantry. September is Hunger Awareness Month across the nation. More than 1,300 walkers participated in this year’s event, which seeks to bring awareness to hunger-related issues in Appalachia.
“I am so proud to be a part of this community which chooses to take action against hunger issues by supporting CAP’s Hunger Walk each year,” said Sherri Barnett, manager of CAP’s Grateful Bread Food Pantry. “It is a blessing to be a part of a community that is helping to feed those who really don’t know where their next meal may come from. This food drive for the pantry is extremely important because it will help feed over 2,000 people in Rockcastle County that are living with food insecurities. It helps our children, the elderly, individuals with disabilities, the working poor, and single parents all struggling with hunger issues. I can’t thank the community enough for supporting our Hunger Walk and the food that was donated to Grateful Bread is greatly appreciated.”

Arrahlyn Richards, fifth grade class president from Roundstone Elementary School, was one of the event speakers. “Hunger looks like my neighbor, the kid on my bus, the kid on my basketball team, my best friend, or the kid next to me at the lunch table,” she said. “Hunger does not care where you live, where you go to school, what sports you play, what clothes you wear, or what car you drive. Hunger affects so much of our world and our community.”

Landon Reppert, a student from Rockcastle County Middle School (RCMS), reminded attendees of the statistics that illustrate why the annual Hunger Walk is needed. “In Kentucky, 1 in 6 adults and 1 in 5 children struggle with putting food on the table,” he said. “That means 20 percent of kids at school in our state struggle with hunger.” Seventy-six percent of students at RCMS qualify for free or reduced lunch, which enables the entire school to qualify for free lunch and breakfast for everyone.   

Grateful Bread Food Pantry is doing its part to meet needs in the community. Every week, Christian Appalachian Project employees and volunteers pack 104 weekend food backpacks that are distributed through Rockcastle County Schools. Additionally, in the last fiscal year, CAP distributed 35,000 pounds of food each month to families through the food pantry and to elderly individuals through commodity distribution.
In Rockcastle County the food insecurity rate is 16.4 percent or 2,790 people in the community have issues with hunger. The number of children in the county who suffer with hunger issues is estimated to be 950: nearly one-fourth of the children under the age of 18.
“These are our neighbors, friends, people who sit beside us in class or church, people we pass by every day,” said Luke Peavie, president of the Rockcastle County High School Honors Club. “It is our responsibility as a community to support each other. Encourage your church to have food drives for the Grateful Bread Food Pantry, if you know someone in need, refer them to Grateful Bread, and volunteer at the pantry when you can.”

Shane Baker, field representative from the Office of the Governor, has become a regular supporter of the Hunger Walk. He recounted his interaction with his wife, an elementary school teacher, who was concerned about how many of her students were not eating over the weekend and regularly purchased food to provide to them. “You are doing just what she does to help other children, to share the love of God. If each of us can do our part, we can overcome the challenges we face as a society. I am thankful to see the effort you have made today to help meet that need.”

This year, Rockcastle County Schools held a food drive the week prior to the Hunger Walk. Those items along with non-perishable food items brought on the day of the walk totaled 3,521 pounds of food. In addition, CAP hosted a virtual Hunger Walk which allowed supporters outside of Rockcastle County to give to help the pantry. That effort raised an additional $7,846.
The 2019 Hunger Walk was co-sponsored by the City of Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County Schools, and Berea Wal-Mart. Among the walkers were Mike Bryant, mayor of Mt. Vernon; Hal Holbrook, Rockcastle County judge executive; and Kenny Fields, manager of the Berea Wal-Mart.

Photo Cutline: The 8th Annual Hunger Walk was held on in Downtown Mt. Vernon on Thursday, September 19, 2019. The walk was led by Sherri Barnett, manager of the Grateful Bread Food Pantry; Hal Holbrook, Rockcastle County Judge Executive; Luke Peavie, Rockcastle County High School; Mike Higginbotham, CAP Facility Maintenance ; Landon Reppert, Rockcastle County Middle School; Arrahlyn Richards, Roundstone Elementary School; and Shane Baker, field representative from the Office of the Governor.