It is CROP Walk weekend in central New York. The annual walk, sponsored by Church World Service to raise money for the hungry, comes at a time when the need is great.
Upstate CROP Walk Coordinator Doug Anderson says the the number of people who don't have enough to eat throughout the world is staggering.
"Somewhere around 870 million people -- about one-eigth of humanity," said Anderson.
Anderson says money raised from the CROP Walk will help provide seeds, tools, training and emergency food worldwide, but a quarter of those funds will stay in central New York. And they come at a time when local food pantries are struggling.
Michele Jordan runs the Interreligious Food Consortium in Syracuse and says she doesn't have numbers, but knows anecdotally by monthly referrals that things are bad.
"We used to average 100, now we average over 200 referrals. That means a pantry is calling because someone is at their pantry and they need to find a neighborhood pantry. A social worker calls and they're looking for food because a student has come to them and they're looking for food," she said.
Jordan says the increase in need stems from a continued weak economy, coupled with higher gas and food prices. The need for food started rising four years ago, and hasn't gotten any better in recent years, she said.