What does two brothers plus one penny per mile times 4,000 miles equal?
The answer: 400 meals for children living in poverty in the U.S.
Hailing from Ferndale, Michigan, Jon and Chris Gagnon are well acquainted with the childhood food insecurity problem in Detroit. In Wayne County, Mich., the rate of child food insecurity is 22.3 percent, meaning 102,790 children don’t have sufficient access to nutritious food.
While volunteering with an AmeriCorps summer program, Jon heard about No Kid Hungry – a national nonprofit that helps bring federal and state assistance programs to families and children. Jon is now employed by Groundwerx.CI, a Detroit nonprofit that works with No Kid Hungry.
Due to this experience, the Gagnon brothers saw that something needed to be done, and their solution was a cross-country bike campaign to raise money for the organization.
Their ride started on Sept. 3 in San Francisco and concluded Oct. 17 in Washington D.C. For six weeks, the brothers toured all around the country seeing sights all too common in Detroit: tons of grocery stores and farmers markets, but people still living without healthy food. During their trip, they were able to witness and experience the daily struggle of those families.
“Being hungry doesn’t just make your stomach growl,” Chris wrote on the brothers’ blog. “It drains your energy, steals your focus and makes the simplest actions feel impossible.”
Before they started their trip, the brothers began an online fundraising campaign on the No Kid Hungry website. Donors could make a straight donation or an amount per mile. Just $1 can provide 10 meals for a child.
Of the collected donations, 20 percent will go to the national No Kid Hungry and the other 80 percent is heading to the Detroit chapter. The brothers’ goal was to raise $25,000. As of November 13, $18, 117 was raised, and donations are still being accepted online.
While fighting child food insecurity is a long journey not near completion, the Gagnon brothers have shown what can be accomplished with a few dollars, bikes and some perseverance.