By Christine Galeone, Contributing Writer
Westborough – You are probably already aware of the positive impact walking can have on your health. Among other things, it can lower your blood pressure, lower your anxiety, increase your energy and help you to maintain a healthy weight. But did you know that by taking a walk, you could improve the health of others as well?
Participants in the annual 2016 Westborough CROP Hunger Walk are well aware of these health benefits. By walking about three miles, on the bright autumn afternoon of Oct. 23, around 100 people raised money to fight hunger. Not only did they help improve the health and well-being of people in impoverished areas of the world, they helped people in need in their own community.
For more than 35 years, the annual walk has been one of the more than 1,000 CROP Hunger Walks – sponsored by the international nonprofit Church World Service – that have taken place across the United States every year. This year, walkers from Westborough congregations of various denominations came together to begin and end the walk at the Congregational Church of Westborough (CCW), which has hosted the interfaith event for several years. The 2016 fundraiser was organized by CCW member Alan Hutchinson.
The walk’s acronym signifies Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty. And with funds raised going to help support the Church World Service mission to eradicate poverty and hunger through global development efforts, the communities are making a difference throughout the world. Generally, the Westborough walk raises between $4,000 and $7,000 each year. Because the local walks can donate 25 percent of the funds they raise to local hunger relief organizations, they are also making a difference in their own communities.
With 25 percent of the Westborough walk’s proceeds going to the Westborough Food Pantry, the funds will have a big impact in the community. The food pantry’s need for food has more than quadrupled since it opened in 1986. Donna Kittredge, who runs the nonprofit with her husband, Phil Kittredge, said the donation is greatly appreciated.
“Presently, we are providing food for 130 families in Westborough, and our food supply is very low,” she said. “The donations we receive will help us provide food that has good nutritional value that these families cannot afford to purchase.”
The food pantry distributes more than 50 tons of food each year to families who are struggling financially.
To learn more about CROP Hunger Walks, visit www.crophungerwalk.org. The Westborough Food Pantry, 9 East Main St., is open Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. They are currently seeking donations of items (in good condition that have not expired) including cookies, crackers, broth, stew, rice, popcorn, pasta helpers, Hamburger helper, canned fruit, deodorant, razors and shaving cream. For more information about the food pantry, visit www.westboroughfoodpantry.org.