By Brianna Stephens
Elizabeth Stevens and her students in the Rockcastle County High School Honors Club have supported Christian Appalachian Project’s Grateful Bread Food Pantry for a number of years by packing food boxes for seniors in the community and taking part in the annual Hunger Walk. Due to COVID-19, this year’s walk will be virtual, but Stevens still plans to participate in order to bring awareness to food insecurity in the community.
Hunger impacts far too many children, their families, and seniors in Appalachia. One in five children goes hungry every day. This number is climbing as families struggle through the challenging times of a pandemic. The goal of CAP’s Hunger Walk is to educate the community about how to help stop the food crisis in Appalachia.
“Not everyone knows the staggering statistics that surround this issue. The Hunger Walk brings the community together to bring awareness to a topic that many don’t think about,” noted Stevens, a biology teacher at the high school and the Honors Club adviser. “We live in a society where food is so abundantly available it is hard to fathom that there are people that go hungry or don’t have enough to eat, but unfortunately it is true. We have people all around us that don’t know where their next meal comes from.”
Stevens recalled a story of one of her own students that drove home the need. “One of my students would ask me every day if I had something to eat. I began to bring snacks to keep in my classroom for when he needed a snack or something else to eat that day. As a teacher, I know that basic need of food has to be met in order for learning to take place,” she said.
While she was familiar with CAP through her mother, who has worked for CAP for more than 25 years, Stevens got involved when she became the adviser for the Honors Club since students were encouraged to complete community service hours. She and her students have volunteered at CAP’s pantry and have been part of the Hunger Walk by participating in a food drive and walking during the event.
Last year, more than 1,300 walkers participated in the walk. In addition, a food drive was hosted by Rockcastle County Schools the week before the walk, and students brought canned goods on the day of the event. Those items along with non-perishable food items collected for Hunger Awareness Month totaled 8,925 pounds of food.
“People should participate in the Hunger Walk/fundraiser this year because it is a great opportunity to bring awareness of food insecurity, which is not something that we tend to think about in America,” Stevens said. “This is a great opportunity for someone to be a part of something that is bettering the lives of the people of their community. It is a very humbling experience to know that there are people in need of food everywhere around us and this is an opportunity to have an impact right here at home.”
Stevens and her students have helped the staff of Grateful Bread do everything from unloading the truck to packing boxes and helping participants shop for what they need. The experience doubles as an opportunity for her students to earn their needed community service hours and provides a real-life example of how food insecurity is an issue.
“This is an issue that I will continue to bring awareness to because it is very important for my students to know that these problems exist. I want to give them an opportunity to work on an issue here in their own community and state,” Stevens said.
This year’s virtual Hunger Walk invites you to participate whenever and however you can through the end of September which is Hunger Awareness Month. We will observe a symbolic Hunger Walk on Thursday, September 17, 2020. Share photos and use #CAPHungerWalk and tag us @chrisappproj. Please give generously and you’ll provide urgently needed assistance. To join Elizabeth, and others across the nation, donate to CAP or register for Hunger Walk 2020 at https://bit.ly/HungerWalk2020