By Chinami Daima
The North American Post
The annual charity event “Walk For Rice” supported by Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) is coming to Seward Park on June 25.
ACRS is an organization that provides support for elderly, youth and people who experience behavioral and mental health challenges. It also offers employment and citizenship training for immigrants and refugees, focusing on Asian and Pacific Islanders. The donations from the Walk For Rice are used to provide food for low income and homeless individuals and families.
The Walk For Rice was first launched in 1990 on Beacon Hill joined by 45 participants raising around $1,800. The scale of the event continues to get bigger and participants enjoy not only walking at the event but also live music, cultural performances, multiple arts demonstrations and food trucks. There were about 800 participants last year when donations reached $266,000. Throughout its 25 years, it has raised around $2 million.
One of the event founders, Herb Tsuchiya, expressed the generosity of the community.
“Many churches and organizations are really supportive to fight hunger,” he said. “And also many participants came individually, which is amazing.”
Twenty six years ago, some of the food provided was not typical of the Asian diet, which was not appropriate for recipients. Herb wanted to provide healthy and nutritious staples like rice, tofu and noodles for the API community and let people know that ACRS has the resources for them. So he, Sam Mitsui and the late Bertha Tsuchiya started organizing the charity event: Walk for Rice.
At the ACRS food bank, there are around 300 to 400 clients in line every Wednesday and Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Some have already been waiting from 7 a.m. when the volunteers arrive to prepare for serving.
“People in line are just representative of the family. There are more people in need,” said ACRS Senior Nutrition and Assistance Manager Miguel Saldin.
Last year, ACRS distributed over one million pounds of food to 5,136 individuals and families in King County. Seventy percent of them are children under the age of 18 or seniors: their average age is 73. Based on the needs from the homeless, they provide meals to about 600 people who come every week. It is open to everyone but the majority of them are Asian or Pacific Islanders.
Karen Jackel, who has served food for more than 24 years at ACRS food bank, said many recipients visit the food bank more often than before due to the increase of rent and medical bills. She has bought food for donation through Walk for Rice and negotiated with local farmers, businesses, churches and other organizations and individuals to donate fresh and nutritious food to the food bank.
This year’s goal of the Walk For Rice is $275,000. So far, donations have totaled 20 percent at $55,270. The donation deadline is June 17. Every dollar is put towards the food bank. More information is available at <http://acrs.walkforrice.org/site/TR?fr_id=1060&pg=entry>.