A group of cyclists will hit the road in September in an effort to fill the shelves of food pantries along the northern California coastline. The Presbytery of the Redwoods is launching its second Pedal for Protein ride Sept. 20-26, 2015.  Eighteen riders will make their way down California’s Highway One in an effort to raise $30,000.

Funds raised through the ride will help pantries provide protein-rich foods such as canned tuna and chicken, peanut butter and milk to families in need. All funds raised will be donated through North Coast regional food banks to local food pantries.

A local pastor had commented to me that the demand at her church’s food pantry had grown from 30 people a week to more than 300,” said Patty Sanders, Hunger Action Enabler and ride director. “The church could not afford to keep it stocked, especially with higher priced protein items.”

That prompted Sanders, a nutritionist and avid biker to organize a ride to raise funds for food pantries within the presbytery.

“We wanted to create an awareness of the need for grassroots food pantries,” she said. “We have many churches both small and large with congregations of three, 10 or 30 members and more. Last year they were so gracious to house and feed us, give us a place to sleep and shower, and even did our laundry.”

The trek will take bikers from the California/Oregon border to the Golden Gate Bridge, covering 420 miles over a seven day period.

Last year, Bryce Wiebe, manager of special offerings with the PC(USA) participated in the inaugural ride while working in the Presbyterian Hunger Program. He was the youngest rider to participate. The average age was 60 years.

“I took off gliding through some of the most beautiful country I have ever had the blessing to see, mammoth trees and gorgeous ocean views,” said Wiebe. “It was a place where I felt small and I was surrounded by exceptional and committed people who were just thrilled to be participating and to be contributing to a project that would alleviate the hunger of their neighbors.”

Wiebe said churches with only a few members to those with hundreds were able to see themselves in the project—how even with small gifts they could impact their communities.

“Hunger is a problem that requires both immediate intervention and relief, like the food pantries we saw and the riders raised money for,” he said. “But, we must respond with changes to systems through advocacy and movement building. I got the chance to let people know about ways we might move beyond the first steps of direct relief and into the building of sustainable, regional food systems that are built for and by the people who benefit from them, to advocacy for better food systems. We can change the systems that create poverty and hunger, and we can do it together. It just takes the risk of being in community first and being fearful last.”

Riders pay $250 each for registration, covering the costs of the sag wagon, publicity, motel stay, snacks, etc. Each rider is also required to raise a minimum of $500.

The Presbytery of the Redwoods includes 49 congregations, totaling more than 6,100 members and 151 minister members.  It includes the counties of Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Lake, Mendocino and Humboldt.


More information about the ride is available at www.imathlete.com/events/PedalforProtein.

The Presbyterian Hunger Program recently hosted a webinar entitled “God’s Concern: A Biblical Reflection on Hunger,” in which Sanders talks about her inspiration for the ride. The webinar can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hesxbt0HKNY&feature=youtu.be.