On a mission: 200 food banks plus 100 marathons for hunger awareness

October 26, 2016

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

The Food Bank of Delaware is grateful for every volunteer, and sometimes we get help from an unexpected place.

On Tuesday, an out-of-state volunteer visited the Milford branch and worked a shift as part of her unusual and on-going mission to run 100 marathons and visit all 200 food banks in the Feeding America network.

Thanks, Jess Kurti (pictured left with Lyndsay Humphreys, our Milford volunteer coordinator), for making a return visit!

By Tuesday, Jess had visited 160 of those food banks, and she will do the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, Oct. 30.

Before she started her four-hour shift sorting through food donations, she sat down to share how and why she developed her mission to promote awareness of hunger in America.

Details of her journey are posted on her Facebook page, Beast of Burden Challenge, (http://bit.ly/BOBCstory) where there are links to a Crowdrise page for anyone who wants to contribute to her cause.

This Florida resident, who now lives out of her Subaru, did not start out with such lofty goals in November 2012. She was downsized from a west Florida utility company. Yes, she had done some volunteering in food pantries, but she had never run a marathon or realized how hunger impacts so many people.

“I didn’t know what hunger looked like,” she said. Her perspective changed when tough economic conditions forced family and friends to seek assistance.

Where do the marathons, a distance of 26.2 miles, come into the picture?

“I was always athletic, and I just started to run marathons,” Jess said. Those marathons coincided with a road trip to reconnect with her family and friends across the country.

“I decided I wanted a life of service over self,” she said, recalling the moment when she set a goal of running a marathon in all 50 states, traveling, and volunteering.

In 2014, she named her project “Beast of Burden Challenge.”

By September 2015, she had completed the 50 marathons, but there were still food pantries she had not visited. She upped the number of marathons to 100 in April.

“There’s a parallel. Nutrition is very important to runners. There’s a running community and a sense of community with food banks. People help where they live,” Jess said.

She said she’s relied on the support from family and friends along the way.

“I’m trying to do this as inexpensively as possible,” she added.

And when she’s met her goal, what’s next?

“I know I want to work in some area of hunger relief. I have considered graduate school. I’ve met with people from AmeriCorps. I know it will be something involving talking about community and corporate engagement. It’s tough not to be outraged by hunger in America.”

For more information about how you can volunteer at the Food Bank of Delaware in Milford or in Newark, click here!

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