Race #12 – Running to Help the Hungry

Starting the Cocoa Bean 5K / Photo by Paul Moretz.

Race #12: Cocoa Bean 5K, Hershey, PA

The Cause: Local food banks and the Penn State Health Emergency Food Box Initiative

On the heels of Thanksgiving, heading into the Christmas holiday season, the Cocoa Bean 5K is perfectly-timed to help those who are hungry and in need of a helping hand. My heart goes out to those who struggle to afford food, especially in the U.S., especially during the holidays, and especially if they are already facing an illness or medical emergency.


  • 37.2 million people lived in food-insecure households, in the U.S., in 2018. That’s 11.1% of the population.
  • 6 million American children lived in food-insecure households.
  • Households who are more likely to be food-insecure: those headed by a single woman (nearly 28%), women who live alone (14.2%) and men who live alone (12.5%), black households (21.2%), and Hispanic households (16.2%).
  • These figure are from the USDA, 2018.

The Penn State Health Emergency Food Box Initiative is currently helping about 200 families identified because they are patients at one of Penn State Health’s clinics in the Hershey area.

A cold race start!

Today’s race was especially meaningful–and fun–thanks to the race director Majorie Lebo who is a fellow River Runner friend. Not only did I know lots of fellow River Runners at the race, but I met a few new (to me) River Runners too. (River Runners is an informal run club in the Harrisburg area.)

A mutual friend introduced me to Patrick–and we have something in common! Patrick, who is now 55, also set out to complete 50 runs while he was 50. Although he didn’t focus on races with causes, he did indeed meet–and actually exceed–his goal. He completed 52 races, many of them trail and Spartan races, and said he came out of that year feeling as though he was in the best shape of his life. It was encouraging to talk to someone who accomplished a similar goal!

Race start! I’m toward the center right of this photo with run bud Cathy in blue, and Patrick in green and orange. Photo by Paul Moretz.

The race was beautifully organized, from the warm pre-race gathering inside the conference facility on the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center campus, to the race which followed the Jonathan Eshenour Memorial Trail, to the delicious post-race breakfast and awards ceremony. The overall race winner was Fleet Feet Mechanicsburg running coach Fred Joslyn who is not only kind, but talented and humble.

Running this race just two days after the turkey trot, and not running “full out” in either race, combined with some hills on today’s trail, I surprised myself with a slightly faster time than expected. There were some super-talented friends in my age group, so I was happy to place 6th out of 21. The top 5 women are all amazing. I was also surprised to be one of the lucky 30 door prize winners. And, everyone who participated received gloves with the cute little cocoa bean race mascot.

All in all, a fun race with lots of friends, with lots of “extras” thanks to Marjorie, and for a great cause.


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