Our Cause

Hiking for Hunger believes everyone deserves access to healthy, nutritious food, and no one should go hungry.

The Hiking for Hunger project evolved from Micah (BAM!) and Keeka’s (Hero) long-held dream of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. This combined with the desire to give back to MANNA FoodBank, an organization that does so much for communities in need in Western North Carolina (WNC), is what led to the conceptualizing of this unique fundraising experience.

In 2021, with the help of our incredible supporters, we raised nearly $32,000 for MANNA FoodBank as we hiked from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. We are so grateful and humbled by the results of this initial fundraising effort. We helped provide over 126,000 meals -what an impact we all made together!

Now in 2023 with lingering effects of the pandemic and inflation WNC is experiencing increased food costs, increased gas prices, increased housing costs, and nearly stagnant wages. MANNA is working hard to meet the need as they are serving 127,000 people monthly. This is 95% higher than pre-pandemic levels. While the need has grown, MANNA’s operational costs have increased for some of the same reasons, higher gas prices, increased food costs, supply chain challenges, and less donated or deeply discounted food. This all adds up to MANNA needing more financial resources to acquire and distribute food to our Western North Carolina communities.

So Hero and BAM! are hitting the trail and fundraising again! This time they are hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. We hope you will join us in our efforts to help MANNA FoodBank and their incredible partners in the fight to end hunger in WNC.

Food Insecurity in WNC

Food insecurity in Western North Carolina is more prevalent than the national average. In the United States, 1-in-9 people are food insecure. In WNC, 1-in-6 people are food insecure. In the US, 1-in-5 children are food insecure, while in WNC, 1-in-4 children are food insecure. This means that a quarter of the children residing in Western North Carolina don’t know where their next meal is coming from. As you can imagine, this can add a lot of stress and anxiety to a child and their family’s lives. Not having consistent access to nutritious food can negatively impact a child’s health, growth, and wellbeing.

Why is food insecurity so prevalent in WNC? There are three main factors that create a Socioeconomic Perfect Storm: cost of living, transportation, and wages. All of these factors have been exacerbated with the inflation we are experiencing nationally.

Cost of Living – In the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, the economy is focused on tourism. With many people visiting and moving to the area, the cost of living continues to rise. At the same time that housing costs are quite literally through the roof, so is the cost of utilities, food prices, and just about everything else.

Transportation – With the rising cost of living in economic centers in particular, people have been forced to search for cheaper housing. This has led many people to move away from towns and city centers where they would have more access to better paying jobs and resources. In order to get to those jobs and resources, people need reliable transportation. Some may have their own vehicle, while others have to find public transportation or use a ride share app. The bottomline is that all of these options cost more money and take time away from home and family. Lack of transportation and/or unreliable transportation can be (and is for many) a barrier to employment.

Wages – The federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised since 2009 and remains $7.25 an hour. North Carolina and 20 other states maintain that federal minimum wage. A living wage in Buncombe County is calculated to be $17.70 an hour by Just Economics. For rural WNC, a living wage is calculated to be about $13.00 an hour. This means that many WNC residents are working full-time, overtime, multiple jobs, and still are not able to have their basic needs met. More often than not, this translates to not being able to consistently keep food on the table.

Many people in WNC have to make difficult choices every day about what they need most. Do they pay their phone bill or put gas in the car to get to work? Do they pay their rent or buy medication for a chronic illness? Do they pay the utilities or buy groceries? People should not have to choose between what they need and what they need.

All of this was happening before the pandemic- the emergence of COVID-19 exposed and increased the inequities in our communities. Now the excessive rate of inflation has driven even more people to seek out assistance from MANNA FoodBank and their over 260 partners to help put food on their tables.

Now is the time to come together and support our Neighbors in Need in Western North Carolina. We hope you will join our cause and follow our journey, again, this time on the Pacific Crest Trail as we make miles for meals in WNC.

Join the fight to end hunger in Western North Carolina and Support the Hiking for Hunger Project. Click here to Donate.

For more detailed information on MANNA FoodBank’s operations and impact, please check out the links below and follow MANNA on your preferred social media platform(s).

MANNA 2021-2022 Annual Report

Why/How The Need Has Grown

MANNA Charity Navigator Rating

“Follow” MANNA FoodBank on Instagram

“Like” MANNA FoodBank on Facebook
“Follow” MANNA FoodBank on Twitter
“Subscribe” to MANNA FoodBank on YouTube

Making miles for meals in Western North Carolina.

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