Over the past 42 years, the Access of West Michigan Walk for Good
(formerly the Hunger Walk) has raised more than $6 million for dozens of local and international nonprofits addressing hunger and food insecurity. This year, the Walk is funding eight local organizations that are working hard to improve access to healthy foods and diminish other impacts of poverty: the Kent County Food Policy Council
, North End Wellness Coalition
, Our Kitchen Table
, Revive and Thrive Project
, SECOM Resource Center
, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
, and UCOM
.The work of these organizations ranges from community gardens, neighborhood-based food markets, and meal delivery programs to emergency food pantries and community development initiatives.
When the COVID-19 crisis dashed plans for the 750 expected walkers to take to Grand Rapids’ downtown streets on May 2, Walk organizers shifted gears and took the Walk in a different direction. Instead of congregating in the center city, people who have registered to walk will chart their own 5K courses within their own neighborhoods, all the while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
“This year, the Walk will be held in accordance with social distancing guidelines and other directives given by public health officials and government leaders,” says Alaina Dobkowski, Access of West Michigan Walk organizer. “Participants are encouraged to walk in their neighborhoods individually or with members of their household while maintaining at least a six-foot distance from others. The walk, which is usually a 5K, can be completed all at once or over multiple days. Despite social distancing, the community can still unite for good.”
Each walker raises donations for the Walk from their friends, family, co-workers, and congregations.
“The Walk for Good Food is one of the best ways to invest donations and energy that will impact thousands of low-income individuals,” Dobkowski adds. “Though inequities in our food system were present already, they are heightened right now as many in our community are impacted by COVID-19 through loss of income, access to meals, and more.”
All are invited to join the walk anytime between May 3 to May 13, either individually, creating a team, or joining an existing team. Those who would rather not walk can make a donation. Donations can be made to a specific walk recipient organization, as well. It’s easy to do on the Walk for Good Food website.
“We need a Good Food System that functions for everyone, especially in times of crisis,” Dobkowski concludes. “It is more important than ever to support organizations working to provide healthy, fair, green, and affordable food to those who need it the most.”
Those who would rather send a check can send one to Access of West Michigan, 1700 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508.