WEBB CITY, Mo. — A local church organization has been working hard since 1994 to make a positive impact on Joplin area residents by targeting an area near and dear to us all — our rumbling tummies.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic springing up suddenly this year, it’s placed a new level of urgency on what the Ozark Area CROP Hunger Walk does, which is to stamp out hunger, both locally and abroad.
“Early on, when the long-term residual effects of COVID-19 became evident, we knew CROP Hunger Walk would become a vital resource to address hunger issues in our community and around the world,” said coordinator Kim Lambeth, who is associated with the Central United Methodist Church in Webb City.
CROP Hunger Walks are community-based walk events held in cities and towns across the United States raising funds to support the global mission of Church World Service, a faith-based organization transforming communities around the globe through sustainable responses to hunger, poverty, displacement and disaster.
Last year’s walk generated $10,000, with a portion of those funds given to the Lion Co-Op, which is the food pantry at Missouri Southern State University, and Crosslines Ministries in Joplin. This year, the group hopes to raise $8,000.
“We decided to lower it a bit because of the financial difficulties that families are currently facing” because of the pandemic, Lambeth said. “This year, we decided to focus on the children in the area, and that is why we are giving a portion of the funds to Joplin Bright Futures and Webb City CARES Snack Pack program along with the Lion Co-Op.”
A quarter of the funds raised will be divided evenly between these three local organizations, while the remainder goes to support Church World Service programs worldwide.
COVID-19 has also altered the way the Hunger Run functions this year, Lambeth said.
“In year’s past, participants gathered in one location and walked as a group on a pre-planned route,” she said. “This year’s event will be virtual, which means participants will walk in their own neighborhoods, parks, trails, etc., and send photos or videos to us so we can post them on the Ozark Area CROP Hunger Walk Facebook page.”
So far, 42 people have signed up; organizers hope to see around 75.
As the pandemic drags on, Lambeth continued, “the world food crisis is worsening around the world. With disruptions in food processing systems, millions are left hungry, vulnerable and facing food shortages. Food insecurity will be at an all time high, and CROP Hunger Walks are needed more than ever to help face those challenges.
“Knowing that we are fulfilling our faith tradition’s mandate of feeding those who are hungry is very satisfying. Isaiah 58:10 says: ‘If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.’”
Ready to walk?
The Ozark Area VIRTUAL CROP Hunger Walk registration will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday, across from the Splash Pad Pavilion at the King Jack Park in Webb City, located at the corner of West 10th Street and South Pennsylvania Street. To practice social distancing, volunteers will wear masks and meet you at your vehicle so you will not have to get out of your vehicle to register. After you register, plan to walk around the trail at King Jack Park individually or with your family, or you can walk prior to registration in your neighborhood or city park.
To register online, go to https://www.crophungerwalk.org/joplinmo or call Lambeth at 417-673-4238 or 417-850-4238.