Durham CROP Walk feeds hungry globally and locally
Each spring, thousands of walkers gather at Duke Chapel for Durham CROP Hunger Walk, which raises money for international and local hunger relief efforts. They will again Sunday afternoon at the 39th annual Durham CROP Walk. Last year, more than 1,200 walkers raised $150,000 -- $37,000 of which was distributed to local hunger reliefs groups. The rest goes to international hunger aid.
Every dollar makes a difference. At the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, a $1 donation can provide $10 worth of food. Ninety-seven cents of every dollar goes to food and food programs at the nonprofit. Its Durham branch serves six counties -- Durham, Orange, Granville, Chatham, Person and Vance.
In 2012, Durham distributed 5.8 million pounds of food, said Jennifer Caslin of the Food Bank. Since the Durham branch opened more than a decade ago, it’s provided 50 million pounds of food. In the six-county area, there are 97,000 people at risk of hunger, with about 31,000 who are children.
“The situation is pretty dire,” Caslin said. “Obviously the need is very great and things like CROP Walk allow us to do what we do.”
Food Bank gets its food from retailers like Food Lion and Walmart, who are their biggest partners, as well as Harris Teeter and Kroger, farmers, packers and wholesalers. It also holds food drives. The three ways to help the Food Bank are time, food and money, Caslin said. The Durham branch has 167 partner agencies it gives food, including shelters, group homes and children’s programs.
Caslin said they don’t ever expect a specific financial amount from Durham CROP Walk’s annual donation.
“Anything they donate is wonderful and goes a long way to helping people,” she said.
Another recipient of Durham CROP Walk local hunger relief is the Society of St. Andrew, a national nonprofit whose North Carolina office is in Durham. Society of St. Andrew gleans food from farm fields and delivers them to partners, including the Food Bank and Interfaith Food Shuttle as well as smaller groups such as food pantries, children’s programs and shelters.
Society of St. Andrew’s regional director Scott Briggs said that CROP Walk is part of a diverse giving base including grants, civic groups and churches. It receives about $1,000 a year from CROP Walk, which gets a lot of food moving, he said. Each serving of food St. Andrew distributes costs the nonprofit 2.5 cents.
Last year, 11,000 volunteers helped out statewide to harvest 7.2 million pounds of food given by growers like McAdams Farm in Efland, Brown’s Farm in Rougemont and Hawk Hill Farms in Mebane.
“Most people know us as the potato people,” Briggs said. They glean all sorts of produce, but do deal with a lot of potatoes and sweet potatoes. On a small scale, this week Chipotle restaurant donated chicken that will go to an impoverished neighborhood in Durham. Produce also goes to the Ronald McDonald House.
“It’s organizations like CROP Walk that allow us to move the food,” Briggs said. “We’re all donation-based, so it’s really a blessing.”
Other recipients of the 2012 CROP Walk were Changing a Generation Outreach, Genesis Home, Housing for New Hope, Interfaith Hospitality Network, YO:Durham, Meals on Wheels, Mt. Calvary UCC Food Pantry, Threshold and Urban Ministries of Durham, who received a total of $37,561. Checks are distributed in January at Durham Congregations in Action’s annual banquet meeting. DCIA is a CROP Walk sponsor.