Hunger is not always a visible problem. If you have not experienced hunger or worked with those who struggle to put healthy food on the table, you may not realize that that hunger and food insecurity affect many children in our community.
When representatives of the Tioga County Anti-Hunger Task Force spoke at Owego Rotary, some members were surprised at the need in their own back yards.
“The number of children in Tioga County that don’t know where their next meal come from is shocking,” said Jennifer Welch, Owego Rotary member. Welch and other members decided to do something to help and organized the Run 2 Feed Fun Run/Walk 5K to raise funds for the Anti-Hunger Task Force. The 5K will be held on Sunday, May 21, from noon to 4 p.m. at Hickories Park in Owego.
Child Hunger affects many children and families in our community. Twenty-one percent of Tioga County students suffer from food insecurity, which means they have limited access to adequate food. Four-thousand children in Tioga County receive free or reduced meal plans at schools, but when children are not at school, such as in the summer months, their access to regular and nutritious meals is often uncertain. The Anti-Hunger Task Force programs address this gap in food availability for children Tioga County.
“The Anti-Hunger Task Force supports the Summer Food Service Program, which is sponsored by Owego Apalachin, Tioga, Spencer-Van Etten, and Waverly School Districts. In a collaborative effort, Task Force members help build participation in this program that provides free meals to children 18 years and younger at summer meal sites throughout the county,” said Task Force volunteer, Nancy Eckstrom.
The Anti-Hunger Task Force also partners with agencies and volunteers to secure funding and distribute Summer Lunch Boxes to send nutrient dense foods, including fresh produce, into the homes of food insecure children during the summer.
“These programs help kids stay healthy and better prepared to return to school in September, ready to learn,” said Eckstrom.
The Run 2 Feed Fun Run/Walk 5K will offer people an opportunity to come together to support the Anti-Hunger Task Force and raise awareness about the need to help local children access nutritious food.
The event kicks off with a dog parade, with a prize for “Best Costume.” There will be a Kids’ race beginning at 1 p.m. and the 5K will start at 2 p.m. The 5K will take runners and walkers through Hickories Park. Racers will receive a free t-shirt (while supplies last), snacks and water. Medals will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the women and men’s categories. The Kids’ Run/Walk will be a short loop and medals will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in girls and boys categories.
There will be food and ice cream vendors, Farmhouse Brewery, a DJ, basket raffles and more!
Owego Rotary is dedicated to creating positive, lasting change in our communities and around the world. This is the organization’s third food initiative, the previous two being community gardens at Tioga County Rural Ministry and Nichols Community Center.
You can learn more about the race and sign up at www.runsignup.com (search Run 2 Feed). For more information, contact Jennifer Welch at (607) 687-3594.