By Brianna Stephens
While she was a student in Rockcastle County Schools, Katherine Coffey learned how hunger impacts her community through her involvement in Christian Appalachian Project’s Grateful Bread Food Pantry and its annual Hunger Walk event. Due to COVID-19, this year’s Hunger Walk event will be virtual, but that does not make the need for food any less.
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.
“It is still important to contribute to Hunger Walk even though it is virtual because there are always going to be those in need of food,” said Coffey, a 2020 graduate of Rockcastle County High School. “With this pandemic there is an even greater need for food. Nothing will stop the need, but support and donations for the pantry will help address it. We can make just as much of an impact virtually as we can in person if we put forth the effort to make a difference.”
In high school Coffey was involved in her school’s Honors Club, which frequently packed and distributed food and collected donations for Grateful Bread. Through that experience, Coffey saw the faces of hunger in her hometown. “I did not realize there was such a need in the community. It is shocking,” Coffey said. “It was very rewarding and humbling to be able to serve them, laugh with them, and help them with their needs. We helped make it an easy and enjoyable experience for them.”
To raise hunger awareness among their peers, the Honors Club also hosted an annual Hunger Banquet for the student body. Students would draw an income class and would be given a meal that corresponded to it. Students who drew affluent status received pizza and salad, middle class students received a sandwich, and students who represented families in poverty received a handful of crackers. “It was an eye opener to what some people face every day. They don’t have a choice. They have to eat what they can get,” Coffey said.
Since she was in middle school, Coffey has walked with her peers in CAP’s Hunger Walk to bring attention to hunger awareness. “The event helped us understand food insecurity and gave us the chance to talk with other students about how we can deal with the issue of hunger right at our back door,” Coffey said. Since her experiences with CAP through the school system, she has continued to donate to Grateful Bread and other local organizations that help people in need.
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.
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 Katherine, and others across the nation, donate to CAP or register for Hunger Walk 2020 at https://bit.ly/HungerWalk2020.