MIDDLESEX COUNTY – Each year, the Run for Rutgers Against Hunger 5K puts hundreds of feet to the pavement, raises thousands of dollars and awareness and brings a university community one step closer to eradicating regional famine.
“We’re a university-wide initiative fighting hunger in New Jersey,” said Kat Decker, a Rutgers Against Hunger coordinator. “We have over one million residents in this state, who are considered food insecure; who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. As the state university, we should be a driving force for resources.”
Proceeds from this year’s Oct. 27 homecoming-day run are headed to a hometown effort.
For the second time in the races’ five-year history, Run for RAH will donate profits and other supplies to the Middlesex County Food Organization and Outreach Distribution Services, a food bank that shares a Hub City zip code with Rutgers University.
MCFOODS, the County’s official food bank, serves a network of about 80 area agencies, soup kitchens, churches and other social service organizations with weekly distributions from its New Brunswick-based warehouse.
“We thought, let’s bring it back home and help the people in our own back yard,” Decker said.
By choosing a recipient with local roots, the Rutgers University Alumni Association, a primary race sponsor, anticipates a higher rate of participation and in turn, an uptick in donations.
In 2011, the race mustered some $10,000 and food donations for the MCFOODS operations.
“When we’re running low on food at various times of the year, we depend on monetary donations to keep cupboards stocked,” said Jennifer Apostol, MCFOODS Project Manager with the Middlesex County Improvement Authority, the entity overseeing the pantry. “Words seem to fall short when we try to fully express our appreciation to Rutgers Against Hunger and to all those individuals and groups who’ve decided to lace up their running shoes or just give to those who are less fortunate. They’re lightening a heavy burden and keeping thousands of Middlesex County residents fed.”
Aside from the registration fees, run organizers also plan to collect nonperishable food items on site the day of the event.
“Please try to remember that the need for emergency food assistance will only increase in the months to come,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Deputy Director Blanquita B. Valenti. “With the holidays just weeks away, MCFOODS is asking residents to spare what they can.”
This Rutgers Homecoming Run for RAH will open with registration and a health and wellness fair at 8 a.m., followed by a one-mile fun walk at 9 a.m. and the U.S.A. Track and Field-accredited 5K race at 9:30 a.m. Refreshments will be offered at about 10:30 a.m., with an awards ceremony that includes prizes for top fundraisers, most team members and top food collectors to close.
Additionally, the 5K will feature games, raffles, a disc jockey, giveaways and more.
To donate to a team or an individual, log onto www.supportrutgers.donordrive.com, select “Rutgers Homecoming Run for RAH” and click on “Donate To This Event.”
Run-day registration, a portion of which is a charitable contribution tax deductible, ranges from $20 to $25, and pre-registration, required before Oct. 22, costs between $15 and $20.
The Rutgers Homecoming Run for RAH begins and ends outside of the North Gate of High Points Solutions Stadium, 1 Scarlet Knight Way in Piscataway, and free parking will be available nearby, on the ground’s west lot.
For more information, interested parties can contact organizers at 848-932-2299 or by emailing RunforRAH@winants.rutgers.edu.
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