Like so many other things in 2020, the CROP Hunger Walk is changing this year. While the event will still occur on May 3rd as originally planned, there will no longer be a mass gathering of walkers traveling along a designated route. Instead, the event will take place “virtually” with participants walking in different locations.
“We talked about postponing it at first, but we didn’t know how long we’d have to put it off for,” says Paul Benjamin, one of the event organizers.
With COVID-19 still spreading, Church World Service – the organization overseeing CROP Walks nationally – made the decision that walkers shouldn’t gather in large groups right now. That change was made to protect public health as well as comply with government restrictions that are in place in many states. As a result, many walks have shifted to the virtual format.
Michigan’s stay-at-home order lasts until May 15 and requires residents to remain at their residence except for essential purposes. Exercise is classified as essential, and people are free to leave their home to go on walks. However, to comply with the government order, walkers shouldn’t meet up with others who live outside their household.
How to Participate in the Virtual CROP Hunger Walk
The CROP Hunger Walk dates back to 1969 when the first walk took place in North Dakota, and the event has been held annually in Lowell since 1995. Although not required to participate, walkers often gather donations from others prior to walking and that money goes to international and local hunger relief efforts.
Of money raised locally, 25% of the proceeds go to Flat River Outreach Ministries and 5% are given to Senior Neighbors. “Our goal every year is to surpass $10,000,” Benjamin notes. “However, due to the hard times this year, we’re hoping for $5,000.”
People can register for the walk on the Lowell Area CROP Hunger Walk website. Non-walkers can also make a donation on this page. Then, on Sunday, May 3, people are encouraged to walk in whatever way they can – on city sidewalks, on park trails or at home on a treadmill, for example. Participants are encouraged to take photos of themselves walking to share online and with event organizers.
Although not the same as the traditional walk, organizers hope people will take the time to be a part of this annual event that is dedicated to eradicating world hunger. “Just remember, you’re not just helping people around the world with sustainable, renewable resources and equipment and education to combat hunger,” Benjamin says. “You’re helping out right here in Lowell.”