NAND’s Fuel Up With Color 5K addresses wellness and hunger
By Sam Pimper, NewsNetNebraska
Runners’ breath hung in the 32-degree air prior to the start of the NAND Fuel Up With Color 5K run at Holmes Lake Recreation Area Saturday morning.
The sun was shining from a cloudless blue sky, attempting to cut through the morning chill as participants congregated under an inflatable archway before the start of the race. No more than 500 feet away, a line of people stood with packages of fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Volunteers were loading the packages into a truck labeled “Food Bank.”
Was this a 5K run or a farmers market?
As it would turn out, actually a little bit of both.
NAND—The Nebraska Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics—has sponsored this race for the past three years, with its primary goal being to promote overall family wellness and community betterment, race coordinator Meghan McLarney said. One key way NAND facilitates family wellness around Lincoln has been to partner with the Food Bank of Lincoln. Although the past three years non-perishable donations have also been made to the Food Bank, this year there was a big push to get fresh food donations, she said.
“This year we wanted to step it up just a notch,”McLarney said. “We asked the Food Bank, and challenged them to help us get fresh food donations, so they brought a refrigerated truck for us. This is great because it allows us to donate high-quality donations along with dry goods that are essential in every pantry. We really wanted to give the city of Lincoln some extra-healthy stuff.”
All of the food donations go directly to Feeding America—the nation’s largest non-profit network of food banks—and go toward helping feed families who struggle financially and could use a little extra help.
“We have a lot of working families who just cannot quite make ends meet,” McLarney said. “They rely on the food from the food bank, so this is a huge contribution.”
Along with food contributions, other monetary donations from race proceeds go to the “backpack” program, which sends children home with extra food for the weekend.
Locals have been incredibly receptive to this event, she said, with participation nearly doubling during the past three years. One major factor has been a large increase in youth participation with their families. While some youth elected to participate in just the 1-mile wellness event, a good deal took on the challenge of running in the 5K with one, or both of their parents.
Seeing this participation is what it’s all about for McLarney.
“My tear-in-the-eye moment is when I see those families running together,” she said.
Being able to host an event where people get to come out, compete and do what they love, while also serving a much bigger purpose, is gratifying, McLarney said.
“We are out here connecting the dots between physical activity, good nutrition, community wellness and giving back to the community by helping to feed the hungry. It’s a great feeling.”
Race coordinator Meghan McLarney discusses event details