Run supports Fish & Loaves Community Food Pantry

Southgate’s Brenda Cunningham

Happy Soles 5K • Event is virtual this year

Dave Gorgon

Registration is under way for the 11th annual Happy Soles 5K Run and Walk, which is a virtual event this year in the wake of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

The 5K is a key supporting event for the Fish & Loaves Community Food Pantry, a faith-based, nonprofit, volunteer-operated, client-choice pantry based in Taylor. The pantry is committed to ensuring that no one goes hungry or without adequate nutrition in Southgate, Taylor, Allen Park, Brownstown Township, Dearborn Heights, Romulus, and Woodhaven.

For the first time, participants can register and then run or walk the 5K race on their own and submit their times to earn medals.

“Due to the situation with COVID-19, the 2020 Happy Soles is now a virtual 5K run/walk,” said Race Director Ellen Pfafflin. “The Fish & Loaves Community Food Pantry has stayed open during the entire time of the Michigan Stay at Home Order, providing food for our clients and emergency food to those experiencing food insecurity. We need your support now more than ever to continue to provide the needed groceries for our local families. Please join us in ‘Taking Steps Against Hunger.’”

Typically, the start and finish of the 5K is at Taylor’s Heritage Park. This year, there are options. Pfafflin, a longtime Fish & Loaves volunteer and board member, said a “virtual race is a race that can be run or walked from any location you choose.”

“You can run, jog or walk on the road, on the trail, on the treadmill, at the gym or on the track – or even at another race,” she said. “You get to run your own race, at your own pace, and time it yourself.”

Registration continues through June 30 on the website 

The entry fee is $30, with a $5 discount for active military and first responders. The first 300 participants will receive a TEC T-shirt and a custom participation medal, which will be mailed starting July 1.

After running or walking the 5K – or 3.1 miles – each participant must post his or her time by June 30  on the website Organizers ask that participants post a photo with their time and an encouraging message on the Fish & Loaves Facebook page, using #HAPPYSOLES5K in the text.

Fish & Loaves officials thanked this year’s sponsors, including Wayne Metro Community Action Agency, The Ford Fund, MASCO,  DTE Energy Foundation, the City of Taylor, Real Estate One-Southgate, Taylor Chevrolet, Ron Dmitruchina, Manheim Detroit, Comcast, Load One, 2 42 Community Church Taylor and Beacon Baptist Church.

As always, donations of canned goods are accepted at the Fish & Loaves Community Food Pantry, located at 25670 Northline Road, Taylor.

For more information about Fish & Loaves, visit the website or call (734) 992-6285. Follow Fish & Loaves on Facebook.

 About Fish & Loaves

The Fish & Loaves Community Food Pantry is a 501c3 (nonprofit), volunteer-based food pantry that serves seven Southeast Michigan communities – Southgate, Allen Park, Brownstown Township, Dearborn Heights, Romulus, Taylor and Woodhaven – in its mission to ensure that “No One Goes Hungry.” A faith-based organization, Fish & Loaves provides emergency food assistance with compassion, respect, dignity and generosity, regardless of religious beliefs or cultural background, to individuals and families.

Based in Taylor, Fish & Loaves is typically organized on a client-choice model basis, allowing clients to shop in a store-like setting six times per year. Equipped with ample commercial freezers and refrigerators in a 12,000-square-foot pantry and warehouse space, Fish & Loves is able to provide a more robust selection of food items than other pantries throughout the area. 

As the largest client-choice food pantry in the State of Michigan, the organization distributes more than 1.6 million pounds of food annually to 3,000 households impacted primarily by job loss. Last year, Fish & Loaves welcomed 16,000 visits by households seeking food assistance, averaging 3-4 new client visits daily. Hunger and nutrition are foremost in the organization’s mission, realizing that more than 54 percent of the children in its service communities are eligible for free or reduced lunches. In three of these communities, the percentage is significantly higher, ranging between 65 and 73 percent.

During this time of the coronavirus pandemic, for the safety of clients and volunteers, food is presented to clients in their motor vehicles outside of the pantry.

Fish & Loaves relies on the contributed time and talents of more than 300 volunteers from the community. Since Fish & Loaves relies on mostly volunteer labor, an unmatched percentage of all monetary donations goes directly to purchase food for distribution to its clients. 

While benefiting from donated food, Fish & Loaves also purchases food from various sources to keep its shelves and refrigerators stocked at an expense of some $25,000 to $27,000 monthly.

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