By Brianna Stephens
Based on his experiences with Christian Appalachian Project (CAP), Jim Wallace said the face of hunger knows no boundaries when it comes to age. The goal of CAP’s annual Hunger Walk is to educate the community about how to help stop the food crisis in Appalachia. While this year’s Hunger Walk will be virtual because of COVID-19, Wallace noted food insecurity is still a real-life issue.
“Hunger is not virtual. The need continues to exist, and our compassion should exist in the real world and the virtual world. Just because the format changes doesn’t mean the resolve to address these needs should be any weaker or any different than it would be if we were doing it in person,” said Wallace, a CAP donor and former philanthropy officer.
While at CAP, Wallace volunteered in its programs, like the Grateful Bread Food Pantry and Camp Shawnee summer camp. In both of those programs, he said he saw hunger in all ages.
At the food pantry Wallace packed food boxes and helped participants shop for what they needed. Several of those who came to the pantry were embarrassed and emotional because they had to ask for help, but the staff and volunteers at Grateful Bread were happy to help. “Most people don’t want to experience food insecurity. To some people, it is embarrassing to ask for help, or shameful when you can’t provide food for yourself,” he said.
Wallace said he heard several testimonies from families and individuals who said if it weren’t for Grateful Bread and CAP’s partner pantry, Water into Wine, they did not know how they would meet their needs.
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 pantry is literally saving lives,” Wallace said.
At Camp Shawnee, Wallace saw hungry youths marvel over the food on their plates. Some children who attended camp were lucky to have one meal a day at home. At the beginning of their time at camp, they hid rolls in their pockets, fearing they would not eat again, until they understood they would have three meals and snacks each day.
“The Hunger Walk shows the real faces of hunger, and it mobilizes citizen involvement across all spectrums,” Wallace remembered from his past experiences at the event. “It gives a real sense of the scope of the problem.”
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.
While his in-person volunteer efforts with CAP have been on hold because of COVID-19, Wallace and his wife continue to fight against food insecurity in their community by stocking mini food pantries to help those in need. He encourages others to find ways to help put a stop to hunger and contribute to the Hunger Walk.
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 Jim, and others across the nation, donate to CAP or register for Hunger Walk 2020 at https://bit.ly/HungerWalk2020