Sunday May 4th dawned sunny and mild, perfect weather for for a dedicated group of Hanover High School students planning to complete Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger. After meeting at the Braintree train station at 7 o’clock sharp, the various student council and National Honors Society members participating wiped any remaining drowsiness from their eyes and boarded the train which would carry them to Boston Common, the starting and ending location of the walk. The route itself was 20 miles and wound through the surrounding towns of Boston, Newton, Watertown, Brookline, and Cambridge. This year was the 46th annual Walk for Hunger, and an astonishing 43,000 people came together to participate. Project Bread’s aim in the walk is to raise awareness for the issue of hunger in Massachusetts and raise funds for their continuing anti-hunger work in the state. Shockingly, the food insecurity rate in Massachusetts rose 80 percent from what it was in 2000, and there are 200,000 children in the state who have parents earning less than $11 an hour, making it hard for many families to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Thankfully, this year’s fundraiser raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, including $450 contributed by the Hanover High School team. That money will be put toward educating local students about healthy choices, providing reduced-price school lunches to children of struggling families, staffing school kitchens with nutritionists and health-conscious chefs, and connecting local farmers with school lunchrooms.
This was my first time participating in the Walk for Hunger, and I really enjoyed being part of something so significant. People had traveled from all over the state to participate, and many walkers sported stickers proudly labeling them as veterans of 20 or even 30 walks. It was really interesting to read the signs posted along the way bearing information about hunger in Massachusetts, most of which came as a huge surprise to me. Walking through the suburbs of Boston gave me a chance to see a part of the city I had never visited, and the Boston College and Harvard University campuses provided a beautiful backdrop to portions of the route. Project Bread’s volunteers cheered for walkers at street corners all along the way, and helped keep me motivated with their megaphones, signs, and catchy songs. I considered myself to be in pretty good shape being in the midst of track and field season, however, in all honesty I was feeling pretty exhausted by mile 19. Thankfully, the sun broke through the clouds and everyone’s mood lifted when we saw the balloon arch finish line in the distance. I picked up the pace and when my feet crossed the finish line I was filled with personal pride. We had walked almost an entire marathon and in the process raised awareness and funds for an important cause. That night, as I rested my aching limbs, I knew I would be returning for my second walk for hunger next year.