PEMBROKE — About 25 Robesonians on Saturday took advantage of the pleasant weather and spent the morning walking through Pembroke so that food can be available to help feed the hungry.
The walkers participated in the Robeson County Church and Community Center’s inaugural Walk for Hunger 5K. A similar event will be held in Lumberton this coming Saturday.
Each walker registered by providing at least one bag of non-perishable food such as rice, pasta and canned fruits and vegetables. Darlene Jacobs, executive director of the Robeson County Church and Community Center, said “a lot of food donations” were received, although she could not immediately say how many pounds.
Jacobs said that with the county’s existing economic conditions, along with a new state system for distributing food stamps which still has glitches, more and more Robesonians are needing help in getting food.
“With the economic landscape the way it is, a lot of people, especially the elderly, are really struggling,” she said. “This year we (church and community center) have already given out 85,000 pounds of food. This is more than a 33 percent increase over last year.”
Jacobs said that she hopes the walk for Hunger becomes an annual event. The purpose of the walks are to stock the center’s food pantry as well as food pantries administered by other community service organizations.
“This event, being that it was held for the very first time, went very well,”Jacobs said. “You have to be a little creative when you go about trying to get food donations.”
In addition to the church and community center, food collected during Saturday’s walk will be distributed to Sacred Pathways in Pembroke, and The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s Office of Community and Civic Engagement.
Ruth Woods, director and chairman of Sacred Pathway’s board of directors, said Saturday’s walk was a good way to bring “awareness” to the need of helping the hungry. She said that her agency works closely with local health agencies to ensure that those in need receive an adequate amount of food.
“We aren’t as large as the church and community center, but last year we gave out 80,000 pounds of food,” Woods said. “That resulted in helping 875 people.”
Saturday’s walk began at the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association building on Prospect Road. Walkers made their way through the UNCP campus, up University Drive to Burger King, and down Railroad Street before turning back onto Prospect Road for a finish at the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association building.
“This is a good day for a walk,” said Albert Conner, who participated in the event as a representative of the Pembroke Lions Club. “It’s for a good cause and I usually walk this same route every day.”
Conner said that the walk served a good purpose.
“Our Lions Club tries to do as much community service as possible,” he said. “But there is always more that we would like
Samantha Maynor, a senior at Purnell Swett High School, also enjoyed the walk. She said she plans to attend a Walk for Hunger event again next year if one is held.
“It was fun and served a good cause,” she said.
Jacobs said that those participating in Saturday’s walk, and the walk next weekend, not only help the hungry, but also help themselves by exercising.
“This is a win-win for everyone,” she said. “It’s a win for the individual, a win for the pantry, and a win for the community.”
Food collected during the Lumberton walk will be divided among the church and community center, and soup kitchens at My Refuge in Lumberton and the Lumberton Christian Care Center.
For information about the next Walk for Hunger, interested participants should call the church and community center at 910-738-5204. Information can also be obtained by visiting the church and community center’s website at www.robesoncccc.org.