​Benefiting from the Hunger Walk

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

Every month, the Community Action Committee makes it possible for nearly 100 families to avoid skipping meals.

The CAC, which is housed at Otey Parish and has been in operation for the last 45 years, is one of the benefactors of fifth annual Hunger Walk, a fundraiser that supports local food assistance programs.

Director Betty Carpenter said in order to operate the food pantry, the team buys about 4,000 pounds of food from Second Harvest every five weeks.

“We also have Pantry Sunday where Otey and St. James host a pantry on the first Sunday of each month, and that supplements what we buy. We really rely on donations to keep our shelves full,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said that poverty is often hidden on the mountain, but the need is still there.

“The hardest part of my job in the beginning was to convince people of the poverty that exists here. We don’t have people sleeping on the street, so the need may not seem real. The reality is we have folks that just need to feed their families,” she said. “We see a lot of people who have jobs but their paycheck is so low that one little bump in the road and they don’t have any money.”

In years past, the Hunger Walk has raised upwards of $20,000. Carpenter said that amount of money can do big things for the people on the Mountain.

“We are just so happy to receive the funds because we rely on donations and grants. We get a grant from the Community Chest, and we depend on the generosity of others. The Hunger Walk is just a Godsend because it allows us to make sure we have the money to buy the things we need to make sure our families are taken care of,” Carpenter said. “I don’t know of another place where people really, truly want to help their neighbors and where so many people are willing to give their time. We have a lot of people who are happy to do that, and we are so thankful.”

The fifth annual Hunger Walk will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28. For information on how you can be a part, visit http://www.thehungerwalk.com/