Saturday, September 25, 2004
While many in the United States struggle to control their calories -- turning down cookies and dessert for a slimmer waistline -- 842 million people around the world have nothing to eat.
About 33,000 people die every day of hunger, said Tim Selby, associate pastor at United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs. "People don't always starve to death. They usually die of some disease because of a lack of nutrition.
"From the 1970s to the 1990s, the number of people dying of hunger went down dramatically. ... Now it is getting worse again."
The continent of Africa has the largest number of people dying of hunger as a result of the AIDS epidemic. In the past year, 2.3 million Africans have died of HIV/AIDS, according to statistics collected by the British organization AVERT.
"In Africa, agriculture is labor intensive," Selby said. "The people who do that labor are getting wiped out. When they lose those people, there is no one to reap and sow the fields."
On Oct. 16, Selby will lead members of the community in the second annual Steamboat Springs Crop Walk as a way of bringing light to an issue that is close to his heart.
"Hunger is a very addressable issue," Selby said. "To me, hunger is such a base human need. People's ability to have food, to be fed, is an effort we can all be involved in."
Last year, almost 100 people attended the event, which raised $12,000. Twenty-five percent of money raised is designated for LIFT-UP of Routt County's local hunger relief efforts. The other 75 percent can be designated by the walker to be given to any hunger relief organization recognized by the U.S. government.
"There are so many issues that people get hung up on, but everyone can get together over hunger," Selby said.
The Crop Walk begins at 10 a.m. in the Meadows parking lot at the base of the ski area and ends at the Stock Bridge Transit Center. A free shuttle will return walkers to the Meadows lot. Last year there also was a dog shuttle.
Participants walk four miles and are sponsored by pledges. Pledge sheets are available at the United Methodist Church, 736 Oak St., or by calling Selby at 879-1290.
People also can sign up on the day of the walk.
"This is a fund-raiser, but the walk itself is also a statement of solidarity with hungry people around the world," Selby said. "Our community can come together and make a statement that we care about the world."
The local Crop Walk is tied to a national effort organized by the Church World Service.
This year's Crop Walk efforts are geared toward the awareness of hunger issues among the world's growing refugee population.
According to the Church World Service Web site, there are almost 15 million refugees and 25 million displaced people worldwide.
Steamboat Springs is home to several Mauritanians who made their way here looking for work and a new life. After an ethnic conflict ravaged their country in 1990, more than 45,000 Mauritanian refugees left their homeland for Senegal and the rest of the world.
Local Mauritanians participated in the Crop Walk last year and plan to walk with the rest of Steamboat again this year.