UPMC Health Plan & Rainbow Kitchen Community Services will gather bicyclists and walkers Saturday to raise awareness and a few dollars for hunger. The eighth annual W.A.R.(Walk And Ride) Against Hunger supports a variety of anti-hunger efforts, which Rainbow Kitchen provides to the region.
Through a mixture of corporate sponsorship and individual donations and participation, Rainbow Kitchen is able to help fund programs for low-income families, the elderly, the disabled, and the unemployed.
Even though the economy is beginning to recover, Rainbow Kitchen Executive Director Donna Little believes it still has a long way to go before it is fully healed. Little said with the slow recovery comes an increased need for Kitchen's services.
"People who did not previously need help … who at one end of the scale, were just hanging on. At the other end of the scale, people who thought they were absolutely fine, and now they are finding out that they are in trouble," said Little.
In addition to economic troubles, there have been recent state budget cuts that have raised the impact of the Kitchen's fundraising efforts. Among the cuts impacting the Kitchen is the state's elimination of the Community Services block grant, which gave the Kitchen money to feed low-income children. Over the last year alone, Rainbow Kitchen's Kids Café program provided almost 20,000 meals to more than 200 low-income children.
It doesn't help that almost 22% of those living in Pittsburgh live below the poverty line. With so many potential mouths to feed, getting sufficient funding can be difficult, but Little said, aside from the first year of its existence, W.A.R has been a major success.
"As the event has grown, we have been able to raise close to $50,000 upwards of that, in the $50,000 - $60,000 range every year with the combined revenue we get from the corporate sponsorships as well as the contributions [from individuals]," Little said.
The W.A.R Against Hunger is on Saturday, April 28. Participants can register online or in person at the event. Registration is $15 for adults and $10 ages 18 and under.