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Walk steps up hunger fight

■ Annual effort takes an interfaith approach.



A major interfaith event for this area will celebrate its 23rd renewal when the Washtenaw County Hunger Walk steps off Oct. 5.

Coordinated by the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, the 
Hunger Walk has raised more than $718,000 for hunger relief in Washtenaw County, across the nation and around the world since the first walk in 1975.

This year, money raised for the walk will help the following local outreach efforts:

AID in Milan, the Ann Arbor Hunger Coalition, First Presbyterian Church of Ypsilanti-Food Cupboard, Hope Clinic, Northfield Human Services of Whitmore Lake, Peace Neighborhood Center and the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County.

About 25 percent of the funds raised by walkers stays in Washtenaw County. Russell Fuller, walk coordinator and director of the Interfaith Council, says he expects 700 or more walkers to raise about $50,000.

The six-mile walk will begin and end at First United Methodist Church of Ann Arbor, on State Street between Washington and Huron. Registration begins at 1:30 p.m. and the walk begins after a sendoff service at 2 p.m.

At Peace Neighborhood Center, 1111 N. Maple Road in Ann Arbor, director Rose Martin says the allocation her agency receives will be used to feed the homeless during the year and as small, one-time-only cash supplements to needy seniors.

“ICPJ really has a true sense of hunger, locally,” says Martin, who used an earlier grant to start a breakfast program at the South Maple public housing site.

Set up in 1992, the program feeds 28 to 45 elementary school children per week. A local foundation is funding the breakfast program this year, Martin reports.

First Presbyterian Church of Ypsilanti operates the Food Cupboard program. The cupboard, what Pastor Laurence Woodruff calls 'a ministry of gaps,' will receive some funds from this year's Flunger Walk.


■ What The 1997 Washtenaw County Hunger Walk

■ Where: First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor

■ When: 2:15 p.m., Oct, 5. Registration: 1:30 p.m.

The First Presbyterian Church of Ypsilanti-Food Cupboard, 300 N. Washington, is receiving its first contribution from Hunger Walk proceeds.

In existence since the early 1970s, the Food Cupboard is a source of free, nutritious food for Ypsilanti residents, including those with special needs.

The money, says church pastor Laurence Woodruff, “will be used to purchase non-perishable food -canned goods and dry goods - for distribution as requested. Most of our food requests are by referral,” he says.

Food Cupboard serves an average of three to five families per week, says Woodruff, who refers to the program as “a ministry of gaps. The major agencies fill the bulk of hunger needs here, we fill in the gaps."

AID in Milan, at 54 W. Main, conducts several food related projects, including a food pantry, meals on wheels and monthly giveaways of surplus food. Ruth Garrison, director of the agency, says Hunger Walk funds will be used “to help buy surplus food to serve those on fixed incomes and low incomes.”

The surplus food program, in existence since 1983, serves about 275 people per month in the Milan area school district. The agency dates to 1976.

Participants in the Hunger Walk may secure pledge envelopes from their religious congregations and from the Interfaith Council, located at 730 Tappan in Ann Arbor.

The idea is to get sponsors to pledge a certain amount of money per mile walked. Their names are then logged on the pledging envelopes.

“Walkers should bring these envelopes with the sponsors’ names to the event,” Fuller says.

The walk winds through Ann Arbor and its exact route is kept secret until the conclusion of the sendoff service.