Early this morning morning, about 30 cyclists and 20 support crew members began a 200-mile journey from Gettysburg, Pa. to raise awareness and funds to help the hungry in our region as part of the 11th annual Battle Against Hunger Bike Ride.
The cyclists will ride two back-to-back centuries (the cycling term for a hundred-mile ride) cross the finish line at the Washington Crossing Park Pavilion in Pennsylvania at 5 p.m. tomorrow. The welcome-home celebration at the pavilion is open to the public.
When the first Battle Against Hunger bike ride took place in September of 2003, five riders, outnumbered by their support team and fueled more by faith and determination than training, made the two-day trek and raised over $12,000 to benefit the Trenton Rescue Mission and the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. The ride has steadily grown since then, and in 2012 the ride raised a record $82,000 for several non-profits that serve the hungry.
“What began as a dream to help feed the hungry with the pledges from a bike tour has blossomed into a charity that is blessed to have many concerned and motivated volunteers who are committed to battling hunger,” Ride organizer Chuck Inman said.
The ride has raised more than $600,000 total, and organizers hope to reach the $700,000 mark this year, Inman said. Riders have the freedom to solicit donations in support of any worthy agency they choose, as long as its mission involves fighting hunger. For the first time, the ride offers shorter one day options this year, meaning additional participants and more funds raised.
Inman, a member of St. Matthews Episcopal Church in Pennington, has constantly looked for ways to expand the reach of the charity bike ride, an interfaith effort that now supports several nonprofits in addition to the Rescue Mission and the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, including the Crisis Ministry of Mercer County and Jewish Family Services of Atlantic and Cape May Counties.
This year, the Battle Against Hunger ride welcomes another a new partnership, this time with the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey. The Diocese runs a program called Jubilee Ministries that seeks to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence, and to pursue peace and reconciliation. Addressing issued of food scarcity and affordable food is a one of the most important aspects of the ministries at the 19 Jubilee Ministry centers in the Diocese.
“It’s wonderful that we can expand our base and assist more churches in the Diocese in building and funding their own outreach ministries,” Inman said. “We are always seeking to get more people involved and to help people fulfill their own missions that benefit their own local agencies, regardless of religious affiliation.”
Phyllis Jones, a long-time support team coordinator for the Battle Against Hunger, said the ride and Jubilee Ministries are natural partners.
“Hunger knows no boundaries,” Jones said. “On the ride, the borders we cross physically are symbolic of the ones we cross spiritually, culturally and racially as we work together. There is such energy and transformation in that. It’s every bit as important to me as the funds we raise.”
To find out more about the Battle Against Hunger or to make a donation, visit www.battleagainsthunger.org.