Farming 4 Hunger is teaming up with Calvert Memorial Hospital and its partners to sponsor a 5K walk/run on May 11 at Serenity Farms in Benedict to raise funds that will be used to grow produce for area food pantries. The family friendly event is also intended to raise awareness about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables to fight disease and obesity.
Organizers are hoping to attract a wide variety of walkers and runners and are encouraging all ages, including parents with children, to come out in support of a great cause. The cross-country course winds through a working farm complete with farm animals and rolling fields along the Patuxent River.
Those who sign up for the 5K before May 1 pay the “early bid” fee of $30 and are guaranteed a race T-shirt. The fee on race day is $40. The event is free for ages 12 and under. Go to www.active.com to register online or visit www.farming4hunger.com for mail-in registration. The race begins at 9 a.m. with a warm-up by 5K sponsor World Gym. Check-in begins at 7 a.m.
“I want participants to know their footsteps are going to put food on people’s tables,” said Bernie Fowler, Jr. who founded the local non-profit Farming 4 Hunger. According to local statistics, 10,000 families in Calvert County rely on local food pantries to provide their next meal. Nearly, 50 percent of those who go without food are children.
Last year, the all-volunteer organization provided over 400,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables, which was distributed to families in Southern Maryland. Their goal for this year is two million pounds. That’s a lot of corn, green beans, kale, sweet and white potatoes, squash, tomatoes, turnips and zucchini but it’s only a fraction of what’s needed, according to Fowler.
“The Maryland Food Bank and the Capital Food Bank are looking for 29 million pounds of fresh produce this year,” he said. They distribute to End Hunger in Calvert and the Southern Maryland Food Bank who in turn supply the smaller food pantries.
According to Fowler, proceeds from the 5K will go directly toward the operational cost of raising produce for the region. At the same time, it is intended to shine a spotlight on the need for fresh fruits and vegetables to maintain good nutrition.
“This partnership is a natural fit for us,” said Margaret Fowler, director of the CMH community wellness program. “It is all about addressing chronic disease at its roots.”
“By joining together with others who are committed to wellness,” she said, “we’re able to encourage more people to make healthy choices and adopt healthy behaviors. Ultimately, it leads to building healthier lives and reducing the incidence of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease in our community.”
Calvert Memorial Hospital will be offering free health screenings and educational displays throughout the event. Be sure to check out the Calvert Can: Eat Right, Move More table at the event. 5K participants can take advantage of Vitabot, an online meal planning and nutritional analysis program for 14 days for free.
CMH offers a wide array of programs that support the “Move More” national initiative. The race would be a great way to start a Walk Off Weight (W.O.W.) program with your family, friends or coworkers. Stop by the hospital’s wellness stations and get your height, weight and body composition as well as a W.O.W. booklet.
Don’t need to lose weight but want to become more active. Sign up for the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) and the race will count as getting your recommended daily amount of physical activity.
Starting in June, you can also volunteer at Farming 4 Hunger to help harvest, package and ship out fresh produce for families in need. Burn extra calories while making a difference in the lives of so many in our community.