RHINEBECK – The Food Bank of the Hudson Valley held their annual walk to fight hunger fundraiser on Saturday, June 19 at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck.
The Food Bank of the Hudson Valley is a non-profit organization that collects donated food and distributes it to 400 charities, feeding approximately 117,000 Hudson Valley residents facing food insecurity. The pandemic has exacerbated the rate of food insecurity in the U.S., affecting about 40 million people across the country. That rate isn’t expected to go down for another five years because of the pandemic, according to Sara Gunn, the director of the food bank.
The food bank’s goal was $10,000 and on Saturday they raised $13,000. Every dollar that was raised accounted for four meals now able to be provided to Hudson Valley residents.
The annual walk was held at a different location to allow for social distancing. In previous years, it was held in October at the Walkway Over the Hudson.
Participants in the fundraiser signed up online before the event as teams to collect donations. Nine teams registered and 75 people were expected to walk this past weekend. Participants walked a 5k, six laps around the fairgrounds track.
Registration for the walk began at 9 a.m. and teams who collected at least $50 in donations got a free T-shirt. Then Gunn, Jaci Balcombe, the food bank’s special events coordinator, and Beth Maas, the director of the Florida Community Food Pantry in Orange County, gave opening remarks thanking the participants for their work.
At 10 a.m. the teams warmed up for their walk with Zumba and then started their 5k. Stop and Shop, a sponsor of the fundraiser, had a tent setup to hand out water bottles and a Nancy’s of Woodstock Artisanal Creamery food truck was there for people to buy dessert after their walk.
Gunn said her main hope for the fundraiser was to raise awareness for food insecurity so that they can continue to provide for Hudson Valley residents in need, regardless of dietary restrictions.
Maas attributes food pantries’ ability to operate to food banks like The Food Bank of the Hudson Valley because the food bank makes operating a pantry more cost-effective.
“As a pantry, we’d never be able to survive without the food bank,” she said.
To make a donation to the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley or to find a local food pantry, visit their website.