A Legacy of Impact

One Man's Revolutionary Idea 

In 1969, Patrick Hughes had an idea: The Walk for Hunger. He put his revolutionary idea into action to catalyze five decades of social justice, grassroots activism, and anti-hunger action in Massachusetts. 




A group of activists from the Paulist Center, led by Patrick Hughes, established The Walk for Hunger in the Boston area. Approximately 2,000 people set out on a 29.6 mile trek through Quincy on Sunday, June 8, 1969. Participants raised $26,000 to fund two hunger projects and an agricultural training program in Liberia. Some of these "First Walkers" are still walking and supporting the event today!


After the success of the first Walk for Hunger, Patrick moved the event to Boston, where it has stayed for five decades.  2,000 concerned citizens participated in the 25 mile route.


With nearly 10% of people in Massachusetts living below the poverty line in 1979, hunger persisted in the Commonwealth. Nearly 3,000 people participated in the 10th Anniversary of The Walk for Hunger and helped raise much needed funds for 34 emergency food programs. 


The first million dollar Walk for Hunger! Eleven thousand participants raised more than $1,000,000 to help feed hungry families in Massachusetts. 


Despite a strong economy, hunger continued to rise in Massachusetts. Concerned citizens in the Bay State participated and raised $3,000,000 to support more than 350 emergency food programs. 


The 40th Walk for Hunger set new records when an estimated 40,000 Walkers, 2,000 Volunteers, 50,000 Donors, and more than 35 Corporate Sponsors raised over $4 million to help feed hungry people in Massachusetts. 


522,000 people in Massachusetts were struggling to put food on the table. High food prices, combined with the fallout of the 2008 economic crisis caused food insecurity and hunger to increase dramatically. In low-income communities throughout the state, 1 child in 3 was hungry, or in risk of being hungry. 


With record unemployment, lost wages, and many having little-to-no savings to protect them from the economic impact of COVID-19, food insecurity in Massachusetts skyrocketed overnight. From 8.4% of households experiencing food insecurity to nearly 20% in May, a staggering statistic. The Walk for Hunger pivoted to a virtual event to safe-guard the community and "flatten the curve", and a tremendous fundraising effort was put forth by participants, who raised $1.2 million for COVID-19 hunger relief, which was pivotal in enabling Project Bread's rapid response to the hunger crisis in the early days of the pandemic. 


The Walk for Hunger celebrated its 53rd Walk virtually for the 2nd year due to health concerns of the pandemic. That didn’t stop the dedication of businesses, community groups, families, and more from forming teams and walking in their “pods” on the first Sunday in May, across the state—and across the country. 1,545 participants and 241 teams raised $1.3 million for COVID-19 hunger relief, with participants fundraising virtually from 29 states.


With the pandemic still a cause for concern, the 54th annual Walk for Hunger was held virtually for a 3rd year in a row. The statewide call to end hunger was supported by 1,686 anti-hunger advocates who fundraised $1 million to solve hunger in the Commonwealth. A robust virtual event featured walkers across the state in media, social media, and an online livestream.