Cloudy skies and rainy weather couldn’t wash out the excitement of the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana’s 14th Annual Hunger Hustle 5K Run/Walk held at Oak Ridge Park in Griffith. Hundreds gathered to run, walk, or simply show their support for the Food Bank and other partnering agencies who helped make this year’s Hunger Hustle another success.
Steve Beekman is the Deputy Director and Head of Development with the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana and he spoke about this year’s Hunger Hustle and what the fundraising efforts will mean to communities across Lake and Porter Counties.
“This is our annual Hunger Hustle 5K Walk/Run and this is our 14th year holding the event,” said Beekman. “This is our first year here at Oak Ridge Park in Griffith and this is a fundraiser to help support our local pantries that we serve with our food distributions. A lot of our agencies participate and raise money to support their own local food pantry so this is a really good event that gives the community a chance to come together and raise money to fight hunger in the region.”
In the past, the Food Bank’s annual race will bring in around 600-800 people but the rainy weather this year kept that number down from past events. Although the conditions weren’t ideal, that didn’t dampen the spirits of those who came out to support the Food Bank and all the organizations with which they partner.
“The weather created some challenges today but (partner agencies) have been fundraising for the last two months for this, so I think we’ve raised nearly $60K this year to support local food pantries and the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana,” Beekman said. “We have about 105 partner agencies in Lake and Porter County and they serve their clients in their communities.”
Partnering agencies and food pantries utilize the Food Bank’s ability to acquire food and they then leverage that to feed hungry people through their local pantry.
Patty Hull works with the Church of Jesus Christ Food Pantry in South Haven and her team was out in force to participate in this year’s Hunger Hustle 5K and to support the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, who they’ve worked with for over four years.
“We started our food pantry in 2011 and we started working with the Food Bank in April of 2012,” Hull said. “They have been such a great resource for us. To date, since 2011 we have fed over 29,000 family members with over 409,000 pounds of food.”
“With that the Food Bank has, again, been just a huge resource in being able to get food at an affordable price that we can in turn help those in our community and our surrounding communities,” Hull said. “We take it for granted because we have meals on our tables but our theory is that the people that we’re helping all need different things at different times. It may be them today but it could be us tomorrow!”
Don Plomann from Best Buddies Pet Pantry was also at this year’s Hunger Hustle meeting other agencies and connecting with community-minded people and organizations to bring their mission to feed our four-legged friends to the Region.
“We get to meet people here who can help more people and more animals,” Plomann said. “It doesn’t get any better than that. We’ve seen people who were going to have to give up their pets and when they find out about us and that they can keep and feed their pets it’s just such a great feeling. We’ve had people come up in tears and it’s just so exciting to be able to help these families and these pets that are in need.”
“Despite some challenging weather conditions, the Food Bank’s Hunger Hustle 5K was again a great opportunity to raise money to help feed local residents. Local McDonald’s owner/operators are honored to support an organization deeply rooted in helping those in need across Northwest Indiana,” said Bob Mazzaro, Northwest Indiana McDonald’s Owners board president and local owner/operator. “Along with the Pantry on the Go, the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana’s 5K and other programming, McDonald’s owners are able to help provide resources and assistance to the entire Region.”
Sponsors of this year’s Food Bank of Northwest Indiana Hunger Hustle 5K included Northwest Indiana McDonald’s Operators, NIPSCO and Strack & Van Til.
To find out more about the Food Bank of NWI, visit their website here: https://foodbanknwi.org/