The Rapidian

Million Meal March draws community support to fight hunger

The food bank expects 500 people to take part in the 10K hike on Sept. 28.
The Million Meal March provides an entry point for families looking to get involved in anti-hunger work locally.

The Million Meal March provides an entry point for families looking to get involved in anti-hunger work locally. /Feeding America West Michigan

The 10K follows the White Pine Trail from Comstock Park to Belmont and back.

The 10K follows the White Pine Trail from Comstock Park to Belmont and back. /Feeding America West Michigan

With two weeks to go until the Million Meal March 10K Trail Hike, Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank says the community is answering the call. More than 120 people have already registered for the anti-hunger fundraiser and advocacy event on Saturday, Sept. 28.

“It’s about making a statement,” said Linda Vanderbaan of Feeding America West Michigan. “If 500 people get together to raise money and advocate for their neighbors in need, that sends a message. They’ll be saying loud and clear that hunger doesn’t belong in West Michigan.”

Rates of hunger have been elevated across the country since the recession. In Kent County alone, 18.6 percent of kids are food insecure, meaning that at some point in the year they struggle to get enough nutrition for a healthy, active life.

The 10K hike is the tentpole event in the Million Meal March campaign, whose goal is to provide an additional 1 million meals to people in need through Feeding America West Michigan. To date, sponsors and individual donors have raised $138,000, advancing the campaign more than halfway to its goal.

“The community has really taken this to heart,” Vanderbaan said. “We’re fortunate to serve a place that has such a culture of generosity.”

The Corner Bar of Rockford was an early sponsor of the first Million Meal March 10K Trail Hike last year.

“It’s important to us that all of our friends and neighbors have enough to eat,” said owner Jeff Wolfe. “We want to live in the kind of community where people come together to do good.”

The Corner Bar will serve lunch to hikers at the Plainfield Township Office in Belmont, the halfway point of the hike. A trolley to the Food Bank will also be available there to hikers who can’t complete the full 6 miles.

Other attractions include ice cream provided by Country Fresh, granola bars provided by Kellogg’s and live music from Jack Tabler and Suburban 5 & 10.

The event is family friendly and accessible to people of all abilities. Leashed dogs welcome. In gratitude for their support, $1 will be donated to Friends of the White Pine Trail for each person who attends. Online registration can be found at MillionMealMarch.org.

The hike begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Food Bank’s headquarters in Comstock Park.

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