SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — After last year’s uncertainties, Run to Feed the Hungry brought crowds of people back to the streets of Sacramento on Thanksgiving morning.
In its 28th year, the massive holiday event saw tens of thousands of walkers and runners come together again to raise money for the Sacramento Food Bank.
Mayor Darell Steinberg addressed the crowd of roughly 26,000 people Thursday morning as he stood alongside other city leaders on a raised platform.
“I can tell you what I’m thankful for — a city that cares. A city that says it’s important to come out on Thanksgiving morning and raise $900,000 for people in need,” the mayor said. “I’m also thankful that we can just be together again.”
This year, event organizers encouraged runners and walkers to be fully vaccinated or get a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of attendance. People were told to wear masks at the starting line.
There were also “rolling” race starts to keep group sizes down.
Last year’s fun run was held entirely at a distance, with participants carrying out their own mini jogs as Sacramento County experienced an ever-increasing spike in new COVID-19 cases.
“We actually did our own virtual race,” explained Anthony Zeto, a member of the Sloppy Moose Running Club. “Did the same exact route and there was a group of us, and we had the same fun that we always have.”
At the time, organizers of the event were “really, really worried,” said CEO Blake Young. The food bank was feeding almost 300,000 people, nearly double the amount compared to pre-pandemic numbers.
“So, the demand has just gone through the roof. The cost of business has gone through the roof and, quite honestly, when we first put this thing together, I thought it was a crap-shoot,” Young told FOX40 at the time.
But 2020’s Run to Feed to Hungry surpassed their slimmed-down goal of 20,000 participants.
“I hesitate to use the word miracle, but my gosh, it’s pretty close,” Young said of the 21,362 participants who opted to take on a 5K or a 10K on their own.
The Sacramento Food Bank said the need for its services hasn’t died down. Instead, the event’s site says the organization is anticipating a “surge of needs” through 2025.
“Over the course of the last year, we progressed from distributing food to an average of 150,000 individuals each month to a current average of 250,000 individuals, up to 300,000 individuals some months—a 100% increase,” the Run to Feed the Hungry site reads. “Before the pandemic, SFBFS was on pace to distribute over 28 million pounds, i.e., over 23 million meals, and this quickly grew to over 35 million pounds, i.e., over 29 million meals. In 2021, we are anticipating distributing 40 million pounds of emergency food, which will provide 33 million meals.”
“This last year has been a very tough one,” said District 6 Councilman Eric Guerra. “We saw food insecurity being one of the number one issues that affect people and, sadly, even today, even as we’re coming out of the pandemic, food insecurity is still a major challenge.”