“Thirty-five thousand people a day die from hunger and hunger-related diseases, which would mean that a city the size of Syracuse disappears from planet earth every four days,” said Douglas J. Anderson, upstate New York regional director for Church World Services and CROP.
“This is a very important project for us because we’re joining with the rest of the Syracuse community, not only Syracuse University, but the community centers around Syracuse and the other schools in the area,” said Syracuse University senior Yanelly Santos, a political science and international relations major and member of the Latino Greek Council. “It gives us an opportunity to be a part of a bigger collaboration, and the CROP walk is always a good thing because it’s the fight to stop hunger, which is what I’m sure most of us are experienced with even in our own communities. It kind of ties in to what we know from our communities and we’re trying to help the one we live in now.”
The annual walks take place across the nation on or around World Food Day, Oct. 16. Last year CROP Hunger Walks raised more that $17 million to support hunger fighting relief around the world.
“In the United States, about 12.5 percent of our citizens are either at or below the federal poverty line, however, the upstate New York corridor exceeds 30 percent poverty rates in our metro city borders,” noted Anderson. “Syracuse’s poverty level is at 31 percent. Almost one-third of our city residents live below the federal poverty line. So poverty is very real here, about 2 times the national average.”
Most of the money raised will provide emergency relief worldwide while 25 percent of the donations gathered will go to the Interreligious Food Consortium (IFC) in downtown Syracuse. The IFC has received donations from the CROP Hunger Walk since 1982.
“This is a real deal and so we’re pleased the downtown walk will support the IFC as they serve about 200,000 meals per month and roughly 2.4 million meals a year in Syracuse,” said Anderson.
At three to four miles, the walk began and ended at Columbus Circle with a one-mile option for those unable to walk the entire route. SU students participating in the event registered at Hendricks Chapel on campus and walked to Columbus Circle and back.
“This is a fund-raising event and there are a lot of fund-raising events for a lot of causes, but the fact that we walk because this is a lifestyle for most of the world—it’s a very valuable symbol,” Anderson explained.
The motto, “We walk because they walk,” ties participants together with the millions worldwide who must walk to do things that many Americans take for granted. The walks provide an opportunity to understand what millions of people must do in order to survive.
This year marks CROP’s 40th anniversary of the hunger walk. The first one was held in Bismarck, N.D., in October 1969. It was conducted in 25 Central New York locations this year. Last year 500 to 600 people participated in the walk downtown and a total of 3,000 walked in Onondaga County. CWS raised $24,000 last year and approximately $3.7 million since the walk began here in 1977.