On May 1, Nathan Lamb of Malden will lace up for Project Bread’s 54th annual Walk for Hunger. He will be among over a thousand virtual participants to walk in their own neighborhoods to raise more than $1 million to help get food assistance to kids and families across the Commonwealth.
Historically, the Walk for Hunger, the nation’s oldest continual pledge walk, takes place the first Sunday of May on the Boston Common. The 2022 fundraiser will be the third event to be celebrated virtually.
“As the pandemic continues to take a financial toll on people and entire communities, we must do everything we can to help the one in six households struggling to afford food,” said Project Bread CEO Erin McAleer. “Participating in Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger is one way we can all do something tangible to make sure our neighbors can get food to meet their most basic need. Our community has shown we have the power to create meaningful change. This year it is especially important. As the effects of the pandemic begin to wane, so do many of the hunger relief measures temporarily put in place to help people. But food insecurity won’t end with the pandemic, and we’re fighting for permanent support to all families who need it.”
This is the first year that Lamb will lace up for Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger. He will walk under the umbrella Team Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services, which is a group of nine Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services employees that works to fight food insecurity through the nonprofit’s Meals on Wheels program. The team will participate in the event through The Commonwealth Program, which gives organizations addressing food insecurity 60 percent of all funds they have raised to support their own hunger relief programs, with the remaining 40 percent applied to Project Bread’s statewide anti-hunger effort. As a group, Team Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services aims to raise $1,000 through several personal fitness challenges leading up to event day on which they will walk together in the organization’s neighborhood. Lamb’s goal is to run 100 miles. As of April 4, Lamb has clocked 25.04 miles.
“We recently surveyed our Meals on Wheels Clients and just under half of them said they would have a shortage of food without the program as roughly three-quarters said it provides their main meal for each day,” said Lamb, who is the Outreach and Community Relations director for Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services. “Food access for older seniors has been a huge concern during the pandemic. Luckily, our service areas and my hometown all responded to the increased need through donations, community fridges and the like. The Walk for Hunger offers an additional way for my team of colleagues to get together and fight food insecurity in Massachusetts.”
Money raised through the virtual Walk for Hunger is funding Project Bread’s urgent mission to ensure kids have reliable access to food, to directly help individuals and families and to advocate at the state and federal levels for expedited and efficient relief for those in need. Walk funds are also supporting community organizations, like Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services, that are helping people access food locally and ensuring communities have the resources necessary to respond to the hunger crisis now and over the long road to recovery ahead. In 2021, 28 nonprofits participated in The Commonwealth Program and raised more than $165,000 to support their own work.
“Our walk community always inspires us. In the early days of the pandemic, we weren’t sure what would happen. The people of Massachusetts showed up for us in a big way – almost immediately. From sewing and selling face masks, to doing family fitness challenges, or even writing songs and walking their own routes, people found a way to raise money to help those who really needed it. I think Massachusetts is a state that takes care of its own and people just understood how important it was,” said Project Bread Director of Development Alexa Drolette. “We were honored that the event raised over $1 million last year, and we’re looking for another great show of support on May 1.”
This year’s event will include virtual programming with McAleer and elected officials, as well as walkers and volunteers posting and sharing their experiences along their neighborhood routes and why they are walking to help end hunger. Families with kids, individuals and teams of corporate employees are encouraged to find creative ways to connect virtually and fundraise together.
To register as a virtual participant for Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger, or to support a walker or team, visit projectbread.org/walk or call 617-723-5000. There is no registration fee or fundraising minimum to participate, although a $250 minimum goal is suggested. Participants who raise $500 or more are recognized as Heart and Sole walkers and receive access to personalized fundraising support, exclusive event gear and invitations to events.
People experiencing food insecurity should call Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333, which provides confidential, free assistance getting connected to a variety of food resources in 180 languages and for the hearing impaired. Counselors can prescreen families and help them to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Learn more at www.projectbread.org/get-help.