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Fighting hunger one step at a time

CROP participants Jeff Brown and Nancy Quitslund from last year’s event are preparing for the Bainbridge Island event this Sunday. The walk will begin at 2 p.m. at the Eagle Harber Congregational Church. - Courtesy Photo
CROP participants Jeff Brown and Nancy Quitslund from last year’s event are preparing for the Bainbridge Island event this Sunday. The walk will begin at 2 p.m. at the Eagle Harber Congregational Church.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bainbridge Island North Kitsap Interfaith Council will burn some shoe leather on Sunday, Sept. 26, to raise money for the hungry.

The Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty Hunger Walk will begin at 2 p.m. at the Eagle Harbor Congregational Church, located at 105 Winslow Way West on Bainbridge Island. The five-kilometer trek will circle through Winslow and end back at the church.

Of the proceeds, 75 percent will go the Church World Service, which has organized CROP Hunger Walks nationwide since 1969. Of the other 25 percent, 20 percent will go to the food bank run by the Helpline House, located at 282 Knechtel Way NE on Bainbridge Island, and 5 percent to North Kitsap Fishline, located at 18916 Third Ave. NE in Poulsbo.

Patty Gilbert, a volunteer manager with Fishline, said the recession is leading clients with a wider variety of backgrounds to food banks.

“Every wage, bracket or whatever you want to call it, has been affected,” she said. “It definitely crosses the economic spectrum.”

Gina Kapel, a volunteer manager with Helpline, sees a similar trend on Bainbridge Island.

“We are seeing more families; more people who have lost their jobs and need assistance,” she said.

The number of households, consisting of either families or individuals, who receive some form of assistance from Helpline each week has spiked to about 240, a 25 percent leap from 2009, Kapel said.

Fishline operations manager Garvin Tootle said Fishline is also seeing about a 25 percent increase from 2009, from 4,176 households served per month to 5,132.

Kapel said it is difficult to generalize how the people receive assistance because some received food once a week while others receive it on a more emergency basis. Similarly, many people receive assistance for a week or a month, while others have been food bank clients for years.

The council has raised $488,000 from the annual walks since they began 15 years ago.

“I really like the CROP walks because they support not only important work here but around the world,” said Nancy Quitslund, event coordinator and a member of Seabold United Methodist Church on Bainbridge. “There’s a lot of benefit from having so many groups, with so many different perspectives, working together.”

Founded in 1946, the Church World Service, based in New York City, is a cooperative ministry representing 36 denominations of Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

Quitslund, who served on the Church World Service’s national board for eight years, said the organization supplied food in recent natural disasters such as the floods in Pakistan, the earthquake in Haiti and the 2004 tsunami.

More than one billion people worldwide suffer from hunger, including more than 36.2 million people in the United States alone, according to the Church World Service website.

“The needs are greater than I’ve ever seen around here,” Quitslund said.

For more information on the CROP Hunger Walk, contact Quitslund at (206) 780-9422 or go to www.cropwalkonline.org to donate online.

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