Race against hunger: 5K raises funds for food pantry

Published 7:41 pm Thursday, October 17, 2013

The first annual Eagle’s Wings 5K may have been a washout due to Hurricane Sandy last year, but both the forecast and the number of runners is looking up for the weekend.

The 5K race has long been associated with downtown Washington’s waterfront barbecue festival and the former Lifestyles Medical Fitness Center, but Beaufort County’s food pantry — Eagle’s Wings — adopted the venture last year.

“Last year Lifestyles was in the middle of their Vidant (Hospital) transition and they asked us if we wanted to do it,” said Sally Love, executive director of Eagle’s Wings. “We said ‘Sure, we’ll try,’ — and we’re trying,” Love laughed.

With the dismal forecast for last year’s event, only 25 or so runners showed up — right in time for an hour-long window of no rain after the race start at 8 a.m.

So far, 55 runners are signed up for Saturday’s race, but Love is expecting that number to pick up when registration opens at 7:30 a.m. at Festival Park on Water Street.

Adoption of the 5K is just another way Eagle’s Wings is working to feed the hungry in Beaufort County. According to the nonprofit’s figures, between 2011 and 2013, the pantry saw a 50 percent increase in customers.

“We served 563 families in August, which is the most we’ve ever had,” Love said. “And 91 of those were new families.”

Love said the pantry has had many requests for emergency food, partly to fill in for the interruption in food stamps caused by the state’s launch of new—and buggy—software intended to streamline social programs.

Because of demand, and a lower than usual supply, the pantry has been low on meat and bread.

“For some reason, we have very little meat. It comes from the Food Bank and the grocery stores, but we’re just not getting it from anybody,” Love said.

In addition to the 5K race, Eagle’s Wings has also adopted SOTW’s duck derby, in which duck sponsors wait for their rubber duck to cross the finish line first. Sponsorships sell for $5 per duck, or $25 for what’s known as a “Six Quack.”