East Boston based Project Bread met its goal of raising more than $3 million during the 44th Annual Walk for Hunger Sunday.
Over 41,000 walkers and 2,000 volunteers help raise $3.6 million for a wide range of community hunger relief programs across the state.
Despite a rainy week, the sun broke through to shine on the participants in the 20-mile Walk with the funds raised going to 450 community programs that include emergency food providers, schools, summer food programs, community health centers, farmers’ markets, community suppers, and home care organizations.
“We’re all heartened that our economy is showing signs of recovery,” said Project Bread’s Executive Director Ellen Parker, “But we know that over 700,000 people in Massachusetts struggle to put food on the table. For families, it’s particularly difficult. That’s why we’re providing as much support as possible to community organizations that provide food for children – for example, we’re supporting preschools, schools, afterschool programs, as well as summer food programs.”
Parker added that when a family gets predictable and good quality meals for their children every school day, they save money, which can then be put toward a healthy dinner at night.
In its fourth decade, The Walk for Hunger has demonstrated extraordinary staying power. It’s the largest and oldest one-day walk-a-thon for hunger in the country, starting in 1969 with 2,000 Walkers who raised $26,000 for two emergency food programs. During the past 44 years, more than a million participants have raised nearly $85 million to help hungry people in Massachusetts.
Organizers attribute its enduring strength to the use of online fundraising tools, which allow supporters to bring in donations from every state in the union as well as a dozen foreign countries.
The Facebook application, a new feature launched last year, brought in over $80,000 in donations for the Walk.
The virtual Walker feature, which includes more than 180 fundraisers, raised $10,000 this year. The feature allowed participants who were out of the country or unable to attend Sunday’s Walk to continue fundraising for people in the state.
“We can say that we’ve kept up with the technology,” said Parker, “But the fact is that this Walk is a beloved tradition, and if we didn’t organize it, the Walkers would come anyway.”