Come Sunday, the Grinnell community will be taking to the streets—ok, the paths of Ahrens Park—in an effort to fight hunger during the 2010 Grinnell CROP Hunger Walk.
The roots of the CROP Hunger Walk began in 1947 with the formation of the Christian Rural Overseas Program, sponsored by the non-denominational charity Church World Service (CWS). Designed in the aftermath of World War II, the program sought to coordinate farmers in the Midwest in an effort to ship surplus grain to Europe to ease the widespread suffering and hunger following the War. In the 1960s shipping grain became fiscally implausible and citizens turned to raising money by holding sponsored walks, money that would in turn be sent around the world to areas in need.
Today, over 2,000 communities participate in CROP walks and raise money that is distributed to over 80 countries in need worldwide. Despite the acronym, the money is not always sent overseas—victims of Hurricane Katrina, the flooding in Cedar Rapids and other national disasters have received aid over the years to help rebuild homes and provide emergency assistance. Nor are funds reserved solely for alleviating hunger—money is also spent advocating for women and children in various areas and is allocated to countries such as Haiti that are in dire need of disaster relief.
In Grinnell, the CROP walk has been an annual tradition for years. The program is sponsored by the Grinnell Ministerial Association and involves nine or ten different churches in the area, each of which sponsors many walkers. According to the Grinnell CROP Hunger Walk Coordinator Herb Knudten, who has worked to spearhead the event for 11 years, the event has been fairly well attended in the past, with multiple generations of families walking year after year.
“People who walk are really into fighting hunger. They’re motivated,” he said.
Members of the Grinnell community can feel proud that their donations are not only aiding those overseas, but also helping those in their local communities. Of all the money raised at the Grinnell CROP Hunger Walk, 25% will go to local food banks, with the remaining 75% sent to the CWS to be allocated to “grassroots [and] hunger-fighting development efforts around the world,” as stated on the CWS website.
Grinnell College students who would like to take part in the walk are more than welcome. Students can work online to find sponsors or sponsor themselves and bring donations on the day of registration, which begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 3 at Ahrens Park. According to Knudten, cash is acceptable and anyone who wants to write checks should fill them out to CWS/CROP. There will be hot dogs, chips and drinks served before the walk, which begins at 1:30 p.m. and follows the loop around Ahrens Park. So far, Knudten is optimistic about good weather.
“Looks like a whole week of sunshine!” He said, before knocking vigorously on wood.