Walk for Hunger

By Joan Kurtz

Isaiah 58:7 Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless.

With this quote in mind, I joined another like-minded person and walked to stop hunger.

Ken Johnston from Amherst, Mass., decided to walk around 45 miles in western Massachusetts to make people aware of the need to feed the hungry in our neighborhoods. He was asking people to make donations to three local food pantries, one of them located in the Easthampton Community Center (ECC) where I volunteer. When I heard about this, I decided to join him for part of the walk. I also invited some of my hiking friends to join us. Sadly, only my friend Helaine could join us that day.

On a cool (54 degree) but sunny morning, Helaine and I met Ken at 8:30am at the start of his walk in Amherst where Helaine lives. Since Ken was going to walk for three days, he carried a large backpack with a sign that read “Feed the Hungry” on the pack. I wore a bright red t-shirt, emblazoned with the words, “Stop the Hunger, Proceeds to Benefit the Easthampton Community Food Pantry.” There are bike and walking trails (formerly railroad tracks) connecting Amherst to Easthampton, so we did not have to walk on the road but under trees and along streams. Since the weather was perfect, the trails were packed with walkers, bikers, joggers and more.

We talked about our lives, past and present, and became more comfortable with each other. Ken’s passion for helping others was profound. My experience volunteering at our food pantry made me more aware of how many people in my own town have a need for food assistance. My pantry feeds 1,200 families, about 3,500 people, 700 of those children. It’s heartbreaking to see this, and they are so appreciative for all that we do to help.

After walking around four miles, Helaine decided she was getting tired so we said our goodbyes but I told Ken I would meet him at the ECC where he would be stopping for lunch. Helaine and I walked back, I got into my car and drove to the ECC. Ken was interviewed by one of our local TV stations on his way. He also posted videos on his Facebook page about his walk. Ken made it to Easthampton, 11 miles later, where we had lunch and chatted with the director. Afterwards, I headed to home and Ken continued his journey. Two days later, I saw that he completed his walk as planned.

Our food pantry, like all food pantries, is always looking for donations, both monetary as well as non-perishable foods. “Hunger does not take a day off” says our ECC director. So please think about either helping at your own food pantry or drop off some food. It will be appreciated and well used.