Although this column usually celebrates food glorious food, Marjorie McIntosh asks readers to remember those whose cupboards are not full.
She is part of the annual effort to raise funds to feed the hungry through the annual CROP Hunger Walk, a national event sponsored by Church World Service and organized by local communities. For more than a decade, the Naperville-area CROP Walk has started with an annual hearty breakfast for recruiters served at Wesley United Methodist Church.
McIntosh is among the volunteers who prepare the meal then help organize walkers. The longtime Wesley church member and Naperville resident has learned that, if you feed them, they will come.
“When we give them breakfast, they come to the meeting from 7:30 until 9 and can be on their way for the rest of the day,” she says. “Of course, many of them stay around and talk, but we try to end the meeting on time. Everyone looks forward to having good food for a good cause.”
McIntosh, along with other church members, sets up and prepares for the breakfast the day before the event. Since they need to serve early, they rely on make-ahead casseroles that can be assembled and refrigerated — ready to be baked in the morning. Along with cinnamon rolls, fruity nut breads, and plenty of coffee and tea, the meal is a homemade feast.
“I am so happy to be able to help with the CROP Walk because it helps so many people,” says the active 76-year-old.
The Rev. Duane Mevis is one of the area residents who helped organize the first CROP Walk 30 years ago.
“When we started out, it was a 10-mile walk, and we had 250 walkers who raised $12,500,” he says.
In both 2011 and 2012, the Naperville-area CROP Walk was the largest in Illinois. Last year, there were 653 walkers who raised $76,560. During the 300-year history, this local effort has raised $1,207,827. The goal for this year’s walk is for 700 walkers to raise $85,000.
The walk is now a 5K for a reason.
“One of the reasons for the change is that this is the average distance that people in developing countries have to walk to get water and to get to the market,” Mevis says. “It is important to remember that half the world’s population lives on $2 a day or less. There are 2 million people in Illinois who live on $5 a day or less.”
He also mentioned there are many local families who have lost their jobs and find it hard to afford meals.
“They are invisible to us because they are living with us but many of them are struggling to feed their families.”
Mevis encourages others to consider walking. He finds the day to be very inspiring.
“Just to see a gathering of 600 people from different faiths who are all so excited to be working for a common goal is amazing,” he says. “The enthusiasm present can be felt it is so strong.”
McIntosh knows what it’s like to need help from others. In April, her basement filled with 26 inches of rain water. She and her husband, Jerry, were overwhelmed by the flood, but then 33 people from their church and neighborhood showed up at their door to help pump out the water, and clean and carry out 400 bags of garbage to the curb.
She figures if making a few casseroles and several pots of coffee can help start the momentum to feed hundreds to hungry families, she is ready to start the oven. She shares two of her favorite make-ahead breakfast dishes for others to use at home or at a church meeting.