Hundreds march in Jefferson City CROP Walk

Marchers head out on this year's Jefferson City CROP Walk at Lincoln University Sunday afternoon. Organizers say 300-400 people took part.

Organizers say more than 300 people turned out Sunday for this year's CROP Walk to fight hunger.

Carlos Graham, a co-chair for the walk who also serves on the Jefferson City Council, said this year marked Lincoln University's third year as a host, although the walks have been held in the city for years. CROP Walks are sponsored nationwide by Church World Service to benefit that group's fight against hunger around the world, and Graham said 25 percent of the proceeds from a town's CROP walk can go toward a local charity. He said the Jefferson City Boys' and Girls' Club, which provides meals for impoverished children, would receive that portion this year. Graham said about 51 percent of the students in the Jefferson City public school system are on free or reduced-price meals, which means those students rely on the schools for their breakfasts and lunches and turn to charities like the Boys' and Girls' Club for their dinners.

After a pep rally at Lincoln University's Soldiers' Memorial Plaza, marchers walked through the streets of Jefferson City, around the Capitol and back to the plaza. The Lincoln University Army ROTC unit led the march, which included groups from a number of churches and spiritual organizations in town as well as Lincoln University's MANNRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources & Related Sciences) chapter.

Co-chair Ruth Canada said this year's march drew more children than it has in the past. Several young participants told KRCG 13 they marched because of what they have learned in school and from the media about people starving overseas. Colten Craig said he joined this year because "It was for Boys' and Girls' Club, and they need new stuff, and it was a great time to donate stuff."

Darrion Lowery said, "I was watching on the news that a lot of people in different countries are hungry and they don't get to eat, so I thought I could make a change and walk for them."

Lincoln University President Kevin Rome said it is important for the university to stay involved with the community and hosting the CROP Walk is a good way to do so. He said he was pleased to see so many young people participate and get some exercise while they were at it.

Canada said organizers would not know how much Sunday's march raised for some time, but last year's march raised $10,000.

Sunday's CROP Walk also served to open Homecoming Week at Lincoln University. Following the walk and an ice cream social, some participants headed to Dwight T. Reed Memorial Stadium for a school pep rally and gospel concert. This year's Homecoming festivities include the formal inauguration of Kevin Rome, who has served as university president since June 1.