Hundreds hit the streets of Olympia to fight hunger

Sunday was a beautiful day for a walk. Even better if you’re raising money for an important cause.

The Thurston County Crop Hunger Walk combined both on Sunday, as hundreds, including many from local faith communities, walked either a 5-kilometer or 10-kilometer route to raise money to fight hunger.

Nearly 400 people set out from the Capitol Campus on Sunday afternoon, with a goal of raising $45,000, up from $42,000 last year, said Kathy Erlandson, the crop walk committee chairwoman.

This was the 35th year of the local crop walk, which to date has raised about $1.25 million, said Wayne Gruen, the former longtime chairman of the gathering.

Although the Thurston County walk is organized locally, including support from key sponsors such as Interfaith Works, the walks, which take place throughout the country, serve a larger organization called Church World Service.

Church World Service distributes the funds internationally to fight hunger. Erlandson added in comments to the crowd that some money also would be used to help Nepal and its efforts to recover from a recent devastating earthquake.

About 805 million people in the world do not have food to live a healthy life, said Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero on Sunday, who cited some data from a United Nations’ world food program.

There are local challenges, too, she said.

“Food insecurity exists in some level in every county,” Romero said, adding that more than half of all students in Thurston County’s three major school districts are enrolled in free or reduced-cost lunch programs.

But it’s not all doom or gloom, she said, partly because of county efforts and the crop walk.

Twenty-five percent of the money raised by the local crop walk will go toward supporting local food-related organizations, such as Community Kitchen, Garden Raised Bounty (GRuB) and the Thurston County Food Bank, Erlandson said.

“Have fun today and remember that it’s people like you who are changing the world for the better,” Romero told the audience.

Care to donate online? You can do so at this website.