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Man plans 100-mile walk to help hungry

Posted: March 8, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 8, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Pastor George McLeary, left, meets with Maurice Bloem, who stopped by The Church of Hope food pantry and thrift store in Canyon Country on Wednesday.

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Maurice Bloem has been raising blisters on his feet for the past few days, but he says his blisters are minor in comparison to what millions of women throughout the world face when they walk long distances each day just to provide water for their families.

Bloem, a humanitarian and a senior executive with the global humanitarian group Church World Service, is walking 100 miles through Southern California this week to show solidarity with the people throughout the United States and the world who have been working to combat hunger.

“One-in-5 people in the United States don’t have access to food every day,” Bloem said. “I think we can solve that together.”

Bloem stopped by The Church of Hope food pantry and thrift store in Canyon Country on Wednesday to recognize the church for its help with the local CROP Hunger Walk.

He then started his estimated 18-mile trip — and longest leg of the week — by setting off on foot from the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry, which provides food for about 6,000 area residents each year, according to estimates from food pantry officials.

The Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry has been operating for about 26 years and has seen a dramatic increase in the past six years in the number of people seeking assistance, said Belinda Crawford, executive director of the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry.

“Last year, we distributed about $1.3 million worth of food,” Crawford said. “There’s a lot of need out there. We feel strongly that no child in the Santa Clarita Valley should go to bed hungry.”

Bloem started walking in Thousand Oaks on Sunday when he participated in the Conejo Valley CROP Hunger Walk — one of thousands of charity walks throughout the nation that fight hunger both locally and internationally, according to officials with Church World Service. Bloem is planning to end his walk March 11 in Glendora at the East San Gabriel Valley CROP Hunger Walk.

Bloem’s goals are to get more people to participate in hunger walks, make more people aware of widespread hunger, and get more people to consume sustainable foods — including foods grown by local farmers.

“I think more people should know that volunteers are doing (hunger walks),” Bloem said. “I think if we work together, we can eliminate hunger in our lifetime.”

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