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CROP walk for hunger

September 22, 2000

CROP walk for hunger



By KATE COLEMAN / Staff Writer

See also: CROP walk: If you go

Have you ever been hungry? Really hungry?

Not just wishing you had another piece of pizza. Not just craving a chocolate-chip cookie.

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Hungry - not enough food to eat, not enough money to afford enough food.

Most Americans - 90 percent - have enough to eat. In the past few years, the number of U.S. households that experienced hunger declined by 24 percent, according to a United States Department of Agriculture report.

But despite the booming economy and record-low unemployment rates, nearly 8 million Americans - more than a third of them children - lived in households that experienced hunger in 1999. Thirty-one million Americans lived in "food-insecure" households last year, households in which the availability of food was limited or uncertain.

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Some of those hungry Americans are your neighbors:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> In 1999, the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program distributed food for 24,113 meals in soup kitchens and shelters and 9,191 bags of groceries at Washington County food pantries.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Also last year, more than 2,800 kids were eligible for free lunch in Washington County Schools; more than 1,100 qualified for the free breakfast program.

On Sunday, Oct. 1, area residents will walk in Hagerstown to raise money to fight hunger.

It's the annual CROP walk, a program of Church World Service, a ministry that works to fight hunger in more than 80 countries. CROP stands for Christian Rural Overseas Program; The first CROP walk was 1969 in Bismarck, N.D. Now there are walks in about 2,000 communities.

Registration for the Hagerstown walk starts at 1 p.m. It begins and ends at First Christian Church, 1345 Potomac Ave. The course is 6 miles long - but walkers may go less than that distance. Every mile counts, organizers say.

This year's Hagerstown walk is being organized by Bob Hyssong, executive director of Washington County Council of Churches; Cheryl Moyer Walkley, executive director of Washington County Community Action Council; Terri Baker, executive director of REACH; Beth Anne Stouffer of St. Mark's Lutheran Church; and Jane Drawbaugh of Trinity Lutheran Church.

A quarter of the funds raised stay in the community. Last year's walk raised more than $13,000; more than $3,000 assisted Community Action Council, Council of Churches and the food bank at St. Mark's Lutheran Church.

Community Action Council screens people who apply for assistance on the basis of income. Food is available at several emergency food pantries in the community.

Many people who need food assistance have jobs. But if there's an emergency in the family - a sickness, a need for prescription medication, if the car breaks down and food stamps are gone at the end of the month - people may not have enough money for food.

"The working poor are so close to the edge," Drawbaugh said.

It could be any of us, any day, Walkley said.

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