CROPWalk 2013 combats hunger problems here in Polk County

Published 8:34 pm Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hunger is a problem in developing nations around the world, but it is also a problem here at home. For an increasing number of individuals and families in Polk, Spartanburg, and surrounding counties, uncertainty about meeting their needs for food is a recurring reality.

Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry in Columbus reports continuing growth in the number of applicants for food assistance. Director Carol Newton says, “Since 2008, we have nearly double the number of people needing help. Today, most everyone who comes in for assistance needs food.” Operation Hope in Landrum recognizes a similar trend. Both agencies are on the front lines helping to address hunger needs in the foothills community.

In the past 12 months, Thermal Belt Outreach and Operation Hope have provided food assistance to over 2000 clients. Causes for these individuals’ and families’ difficulties are varied. The economic downturn has left some people without work and replacement jobs are few.

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Some individuals are elderly and living alone on a meager monthly income. As food and other prices have increased, their funds simply won’t stretch as far. Thermal Belt Outreach and Operation Hope both operate food banks, where those in need can receive groceries and commodities. Food banks are kept supplied through donations from local churches, businesses, other groups, and individuals.

To help meet the needs of hungry people locally, a number of churches in the foothills area offer a free meal on a regular basis. In upstate SC, Gowensville First Baptist serves dinner on the second Saturday of each month.

In 2003, Landrum United Methodist Church started offering a community meal every Saturday night. Four other Landrum churches now lend a hand on alternate Saturdays, and a typical evening will serve over 800 people. In Columbus the Polk Baptist Association provides lunch on Fridays at noon, and Columbus Presbyterian Church serves dinner on Wednesday evenings.

The Saluda Welcome Table has been offering a community meal on Tuesdays at Saluda United Methodist Church since November 2012. Each of these efforts is an example of neighbors helping neighbors. All are welcome to come to these meals. As Rob Parsons, pastor at Saluda UMC says, “Sometimes people are hungry for more than just food. The chance to sit at the table and connect with others in your community also meets a real need.”

Likewise, the annual Foothills CROP Walk Against Hunger helps to connect caring people in our community and provides a channel for helping those in need locally and around the world. Volunteer walkers collect donations in advance from supporters, then on the first Sunday in November, the community gathers at Harmon Field in Tryon to walk together in celebration of what caring communities can accomplish.

CROP Walk has been happening in the foothills area since 1998, and over $91,500 has been raised for hunger relief. Each year churches, businesses, and other sponsors underwrite basic costs so that 100 percent of donated funds go to direct aid. And 25 percent of funds raised stay local, divided between Thermal Belt Outreach and Operation Hope. The remainder goes to support hunger relief projects around the world

For more information on 2013 Foothills CROP Walk Against Hunger, look on Facebook or go to to donate.

Everyone is invited to join the celebration at Harmon Field on Nov. 3, at 2 p.m.

– article submitted by David Riddle