Hunger fighting CROP Walk planned for Oct. 7 in Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY — Organizers of the 2012 Addison County CROP Hunger Walk are hoping this year’s event on Oct. 7 exceeds the record $25,161 raised last year toward the local and worldwide campaign to end hunger.
Middlebury residents Beth Stamway and Patty Hallam are organizing this year’s Addison County campaign. The CROP (Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty) Hunger Walk was launched back in 1969 by Church World Service, an international relief, development, and refugee resettlement agency.
It has since grown into an interfaith effort, with around 1,600 walks involving more than 2,000 communities throughout the country. Local congregations, businesses, schools and individuals sponsored and support the event in partnership with Church World Service.
Participants collect sponsors for the walk. Addison County’s walk of around three miles will again meander through Middlebury village, beginning at the town green at 12:45 p.m.
Nationally, the CROP Hunger Walks have raised more than $4 million for hunger-fighting programs throughout the world, particularly in developing nations. But 25 percent of all proceeds are retained for local initiatives for people in need of food.
Local proceeds from last year’s Addison County walk targeted seven organizations, noted Stamway: The John Graham Shelter in Vergennes, H.O.P.E. (Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects), the Middlebury Summer Lunch Program, the Have-A-Heart Food Shelf in Bristol, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, the Vergennes Community Food Shelf, and the Middlebury Transitional Care Coalition (which sponsors the Middlebury Community Suppers).
Stamway said the need for CROP Walk continues to be substantial, given global weather events and the sluggish economy.
“The price of food keeps going up. Everyone recognizes that,” she said. “People are still hungry and still in need of food, in our country and internationally.”
And the people of Addison County have responded well to CROP Walk since the event was first introduced here almost 35 years ago.
In 2011, Addison County’s was the highest grossing CROP Walk in Vermont. The $25,161 raised locally in 2011 exceeded Burlington’s total of $23,036. The county raised $23,090 during the 2010 walk.
Dottie Neuberger has been involved in all of Addison County’s CROP Walks, either as a participant or as a sponsor, and is serving as honorary chair of this year’s walk. Neuberger has also been an organizer of food-related programs that have benefitted from CROP Walk proceeds.
“The CROP Walk has provided focus on the fact that there are many people with food needs,” Neuberger said.
She currently coordinates the Middlebury Community Suppers, held every Friday night at the Congregational Church of Middlebury’s Fellowship Hall. Open to anyone in the community, the suppers are staged annually with the support of some 34 different organizations, Neuberger said.
Organizers started the suppers in 2005, with initial meals drawing a few dozen people. The program is now serving up 200 suppers on a typical Friday evening. A popular community lunch program has also benefited from CROP Walk funding.
People of all ages and abilities are encouraged to walk. Participants from previous years have included families with strollers, to those with canes and wheelchairs.
Sign-up is required before one can obtain pledges. Most local congregations have a designated recruiter who can provide registration packets. New groups or individuals not connected with a congregation can obtain one by calling Patty Hallam at 388-1561. Sign-up and pledging can also be accomplished online at www.churchworldservice.org.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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