Foot it for food

CROP Walk
Walking from Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs, and back again, Islanders will join the nationwide effort to alleviate hunger on-Island and worldwide. Photo by Kathy Retmier

By Nis Kildegaard - October 18, 2007

A Vineyard fall tradition, the 17th annual CROP Walk, steps out from St. Augustine's Church in Vineyard Haven at 2 pm on Sunday, Oct. 21. Walkers will follow a 10-kilometer route along Beach Road to Trinity Church in the Campground in Oak Bluffs and back.

The hike is a gesture of solidarity with people around the world who have only their feet for transportation and desperately little in the way of food to eat.

Last year's CROP Walk, coordinated by the Rev. Alden Besse and Phil Dietterich, raised $20,275 for programs to alleviate hunger and human suffering here and around the world. By tradition, 25 cents of every dollar raised by the walkers has gone to help stock the shelves of the Island Food Pantry.

Hunger has historically been the central focus of CROP Walks across the country, which together have raised more than $264 million over the past 20 years. According to the Rev. Besse, who organized the first Vineyard walk in 1992, the acronym stands for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty. "It's not just about food," he says. "Because food is no good without clean water, without good health, or without decent shelter."

Funds from the Vineyard CROP Walk and from some 2,000 events like it around the nation go to Church World Service, an international, interfaith agency that delivers its aid with great efficiency. Less than 14 cents of every donated dollar goes to administrative and fundraising costs; more than 85 cents goes directly to human services in 80 countries, from disaster relief to refugee assistance, from hunger aid to self-help programs that offer people a path out of poverty.

Sponsor organizations of the 2007 Vineyard CROP Walk include the Island Clergy Association, the Vineyard Committee on Hunger and the Island Food Pantry, the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School and the Martha's Vineyard Charter School. Information on how to participate as a walker or a donor is available at all Island houses of worship.

The walk will be held rain or shine; police protection, support vehicles, rest stops and refreshments will be provided along the route.

CROP Walk, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2 pm, St. Augustine's Church, Franklin St., Vineyard Haven. For more information, call the Rev. Besse at 508-693-3930.