By: Tina Bryson
Hunger walks among us and hurts far too many children, their families, and seniors in Appalachia. Helena Gallant, a former long-term volunteer and AmeriCorps member, supports the annual Hunger Walk sponsored by Christian Appalachian Project because she has seen firsthand what hunger looks like in Eastern Kentucky. Gallant, originally from New Britain, Pennsylvania, a little suburb outside of Philadelphia, served at CAP’s Grateful Bread Food Pantry.
“When I was at the pantry, we found out about a grandmother and her granddaughter who lived about 45 minutes away. We started delivering a food box from the pantry to them,” Gallant said. “It was always a joy for me to visit them once a month and see the gratitude and joy on their faces when we would come by.”
CAP’s annual walk raises awareness about hunger and food insecurity in Rockcastle County, where the pantry is located, but also seeks to educate the community at large about how to help stop the food crisis in Appalachia.
“I love taking part in the Hunger Walk, especially since my service year ended,” Gallant noted. “It's an event that brings the community together for an important cause. People should participate in the Hunger Walk this year more than ever. The country is going through a situation like we have never seen before and the community needs to come together to keep serving each other. This is a cause that is bigger than each of us as individuals. It’s a chance to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. I know for me, I always feel better when I am helping someone else. This is a chance to do that, on a larger scale than ever before.”
Last year, more than 1,300 walkers participated. In addition, Rockcastle County Schools held a food drive the week prior to the Hunger Walk, and students brought canned goods on the day of the walk. Those items along with non-perishable food items collected for Hunger Awareness Month totaled 8,925 pounds of food.
CAP also hosted a virtual Hunger Walk which allowed supporters across the nation to give. That effort raised an additional $7,846. With the impact of coronavirus stressing an already fragile economic landscape, the pantry anticipates increased need as winter approaches. Generous donations will be the only way to make up the shortfall from being unable to host an in-person event.
“I will continue to speak up when the issue of food insecurity is brought up and especially when it isn't,” Gallant said. “I will continue to share my story about my time with CAP. I will continue to donate to organizations fighting food insecurity when I can. I will share resources when I cannot contribute financially. I will continue to make good trouble and wreak good havoc to make a difference in the lives of people in need. Let's be the change that we hope to see in this world.”
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 Helena, and others across the nation, donate to CAP or register for Hunger Walk 2020 at https://bit.ly/HungerWalk2020.