On Sunday, the 26th Annual Bataan Memorial Death March challenged participants from across the country while providing critical meals for hungry New Mexicans. The annual event is held at the White Sands Missile Range of southern New Mexico. It invites thousands of marchers to trek more than the marathon-equivalent of more than 26 miles.
They march in honor of service members who defended the Philippine Islands in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Prisoners of War (POW’s) were forced to march 80 miles in the scorching heat and jungles of the Philippines, resulting in thousands of deaths. Those who lived faced the hardships of the POW camp with many dying of disease, torture and exhaustion. According to a recent Mercer Cluster article on the march, “many of these service members came from the 200th Coast Artillery of the New Mexico National Guard.”
Set participants in the heavy division of the memorial event also added one more element to marching more than 26 miles. They also carried an additional 35 pounds of food during the entire length of the march. Many chose to donate the food they carried to Roadrunner Food Bank’s Southern Branch at the end of the march.
Melody Wattenbarger, president and CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank (RRFB) said, “Thank you to each and every one of you! You hauled 35 pounds of food over 26 tiring and trying miles. Your honorable gift and service allows so many New Mexicans facing hunger to have meals to nourish themselves, their families, their communities. Thank you!”
Participants in the 2015 Bataan Memorial Death March gave 21,679 pounds of food and a new record for the event, according to RRFB’s Southern New Mexico Food Rescue Manager, Rudy Carbajal.
New Mexico ranks #1 for childhood hunger and #4 for overall hunger according to recent Feeding America and Map the Meal Gap findings.
For information about the annual Bataan Memorial Death March, visit www.bataanmarch.com.
New Mexico is ranked as one of the hungriest and most poverty stricken states in the nation. Roadrunner® Food Bank, a Feeding America member, is the largest non-profit dedicated to solving hunger in New Mexico and operates locations in Albuquerque and Las Cruces. Last year, the Food Bank distributed more than 28 million pounds of food through its own programs, a statewide network of partner agencies, and regional food banks helping nearly 70,000 children, seniors and adults weekly. Roadrunner Food Bank kept 22 million pounds of food out of landfills last year through its Food Rescue Program. For more information on solving hunger in New Mexico, visit www.rrfb.org, or follow us on social media at: www.facebook.com/roadrunner.food.bank, www.twitter.com/roadrunnerfdbnk, instagram.com/roadrunnerfoodbank, or www.rrfb.org/blog.