Many people don’t have enough to eat during good times, but the global pandemic and accompanying economic downturn has multiplied the number of Americans who are unsure of when or what their next meal will be.

Food banks and other hunger-relief agencies and organizations are doing their best to keep up with demand and restaurants have prepared and distributed hundreds of thousands of meals in locations across the country since COVID-19 struck.

We might strongly disagree with one another on a wide variety of topics, especially as the race for the White House heats up, but most of us are quick to lend a hand when disaster strikes or a real need arises.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization forecasts that the number of undernourished people will increase by up to 132 million during 2020, while the number of acutely malnourished children will rise by 6.7 million worldwide because of the pandemic.

Members of the Cumberland/Allegany County CROP Walk Committee recently discussed how local agencies that feed the hungry have been struggling to meet the need since COVID-19 upset the applecart.

This year’s fundraiser, a three-mile round trip hike on the Great Allegheny Passage, will be held Oct. 11, a Sunday, starting at 2 p.m. in the CBIZ parking lot downtown, according to Sandy Cowan, Cumberland/Allegany County CROP Walk coordinator.

Organizers are asking participants to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing. Individuals, churches, clubs and organizations are invited to walk or run that day.

Anyone who is able to obtain pledges to raise money for the CROP Walk can also walk or run on their own schedule to raise awareness of hunger and assist local food pantries and the Western Maryland Food Bank.

Similar walks are conducted in cities and towns across the United States, raising funds to support the global mission of Church World Service, a faith-based organization. Twenty-five percent of money collected through the events is returned to the host community to support local efforts.

The display of generosity is nothing new. It started in 1947, when farmers were asked to donate food and seed crops to people in post-World War II Europe and Asia, a program that quickly became known as the Christian Rural Overseas Program — CROP.

In 1969 in Bismarck, North Dakota, and in 1970 in York, Pennsylvania, the first walk events were organized to raise funds to support CROP. Since then, CROP Hunger Walk events have been held in hundreds of communities large and small raising millions of dollars to eradicate hunger and poverty. Walks have been held locally for decades.

People are philanthropists at heart, and researchers have found that helping others is actually therapeutic. Make yourself feel better by circling Oct. 11 on your calendar and calling Cowan at 301-268-3143 to get a CROP packet.

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