DeKALB – Nick Noe of DeKalb addressed a crowd of more than 100 people on Sunday, Oct. 6, and encouraged them to be bold.
“There are a lot of people being bold in the news lately, from Greta Thunberg addressing world leaders at the U.N. to youth protesting in Hong Kong,” Noe said. “Speaking up and doing something about suffering requires boldness.”
Noe took a small step – 4 miles of small steps – to boldly end world hunger on Sunday as he participated in the Sondra King Memorial Crop Hunger Walk.
Noe and Marti Brown of DeKalb raised $6,700 for the walk. Noe has been taking part in the event for more than 25 years. He walks for Team Gingie in memory of his wife, who died in 2011.
This year, there were about 18 teams and more than 100 walkers, who raised $24,024.32. Of those funds, 75% will be used to help eradicate global and national causes of hunger and 25% will go to local food pantries.
This year’s Crop Hunger Walk featured 1- and 4-mile options, but in the past, participants have walked 20 to 30 miles. A different local church hosts the walk each year, and this year, it was at First United Methodist Church in DeKalb.
Mary von Zellen of DeKalb remembers completing 20- to 30-mile walks with her family as a teenager.
“I’ve worked at [Northern Illinois University] for 31 years, mostly in food services,” she said. “I’m walking to end food insecurity. People are hungry, people need food, people need to eat.”
This year marked the 50th anniversary of Crop Hunger Walks, which were first held in 1969 in North Dakota and Pennsylvania. Walks have been held in DeKalb since the early 1970s.
CROP first started after World War II as the Christian Rural Overseas Program, with Midwest farmers sending grain to war-torn Europe and Asia. The acronym CROP was later changed to Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty; the acronym is no longer used, but is still called Crop.
Crop Hunger Walks are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service, a partnership of 37 faith-based organizations and churches in 30 countries around the world. More than 1,000 U.S. communities participate in more than 800 Crop Hunger Walks each year.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 820 million people did not have enough to eat in 2018, up from 811 million in the previous year, which is the third year of increase in a row.
“We are helping not only with hunger issues, but also water, poverty, disaster response and community development,” said Jon Skogen, national community engagement manager for CWS. “The purpose of Crop Hunger Walks are to come together as a community to end hunger and poverty both around the block and around the world.”
The walk is held in memory of Sondra King, an associate professor of nutrition at NIU specializing in nutrition and neonatal health. King, who died in 2005, was involved with the DeKalb Crop Hunger Walk, raised awareness of hunger issues locally and traveled to Central America, China, Ghana, Uzbekistan and the Dominican Republic to help mothers and their malnourished children.
Kings’ two daughters and her granddaughters traveled from Texas to attend the walk.
“My mom would say, ‘If I can walk, you can walk,’ ” said King’s daughter, Kimi King. “An estimated 2 billion people suffer from hunger issues. It’s not just overseas, 60% of low-income families have food insecurity, and about half are not eligible for assistance. This is why the Crop Walk matters, both globally and locally.”
Walk co-coordinator Jean Evans, who was one of Sondra King’s closest friends, has been involved with DeKalb’s Crop Hunger Walk for 26 years.
“Hosting the walk has become more difficult through the years because there is a lot more competition and so many walks,” Evans said. “But people still care about hunger issues and malnutrition. There have been Crop Hunger Walks for 50 years, we hope we won’t have to walk for another 50 years. Our goal is to end hunger worldwide.”
Donations to CWS are still being accepted. Checks should be made out to CWS/CROP. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-758-7302 for information. Donations also can be made online at www.crophungerwalk.org/dekalbil.