​Planning for the Sixth Annual Hunger Walk

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

Nellie Fagan graduated from the University in May — her time on the Mountain was cut short due to the pandemic, but since graduating and moving back home to Massachusetts, she’s found ways to stay involved in Sewanee life.

Since the start of the year, Fagan, who graduated with a double major in religious studies and women’s and gender studies, has been collaborating with the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club in planning for the sixth annual Hunger Walk.

This year, rather than host a single-day run/walk event, the Hunger Walk will take the form of a weeklong virtual event. Those who choose to participate are encouraged to register either through the official Hunger Walk website www.thehungerwalk.com or by mailing a check to the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club.

David Goodpaster, director of the Community Action Committee, said it is his hope that the residents of the Mountain see the Hunger Walk as a way of helping and connecting with the wider community.

“It’s something that we’re able to do still in isolation,” he said. “Even in the midst of everything that’s going on, the Hunger Walk is still happening and there’s a reason why. It’s a way we can come together and show each other that no one is going this alone. I think it speaks to the resilience of the community.”

Because there is no set route, no set time and no set speed, participants of this year’s Hunger Walk will choose their own adventure. Fagan, who will be participating back home in Massachusetts, said she plans to get her steps in by walking her dog, Huck, and by doing laps with her family in their neighborhood.

“The walk will be different than years past, but the team has been making videos and other interactive components that we hope will allow people to feel energized and make a greater impact. We also hope that this might make participating more accessible. It’s not about getting from point A to point B. It’s how you go about your day. Do as you normally do — walk your dog, walk to class, go for a run, walk around the office,” she said.

Fagan said in the months since the Rotary began planning, the reach of Sewanee’s net has become wider and wider. She and the Hunger Walk team hope this net continues to grow.

“This year, we’ve seen alumni and friends and family of people participating get energized and commit as well. We’re hoping that the walk will continue to gain momentum and that we are able to meet our goal of providing $25,000 to the Community Action Committee and to the Grundy County Food Bank. Food insecurity was important prior to the pandemic, but the compounded impact of COVID is that more people are in less stable places than they might have been previously. In general, this is a critical issue all over the country but particularly in more rural communities like Monteagle and Sewanee.

“So much of what made my experience special was getting to meet people in the surrounding community and getting to participate in the community meal at the CAC and learn more about the place we’re in. The University and the community members that are able to own this issue should, and take advantage of opportunities to make an impact. The work the CAC and Grundy County Food Bank are doing is absolutely vital, and to be able to contribute to this important work that these people are doing every day and work alongside people who are so passionate about helping is humbling. Even in this virtual setting, there is so much energy being built around this. It’s hard to feel connected during this time, but everyone is finding ways to get there, and supporting the Hunger Walk is a great extension of those efforts.”

For more information or with any questions, contact project manager Nellie Fagan at nellie@my-blueprint.com.