Recent graduates will ride coast to coast to end hunger in Western Massachusetts
Cam Nevin and Kayla Strom are heading from the classroom to the open road. On June 1st, the fresh University of Vermont (UVM) alumni will trade their caps and gowns for helmets and jerseys. They’ll be departing on a three month cycling trek to explore the country and raise awareness & funds for food insecurity.
Ever since they met two years ago in a yoga training course, Cam and Kayla have bonded over their shared appreciation for gardening, mindfulness, and healthy foods. As graduation drew closer, they knew they wanted to share an adventure on the road before settling into their future careers. However, they also wanted to avoid the negative environmental impact that comes with driving such a long trip. They agreed that seeing the country from the saddle of a bicycle was their best option.
The couple decided to organize their trip as a fundraiser to tap into their passion to end hunger and make a real difference in the lives of others. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts was a natural choice to partner with for their ride. They estimate the cost of the trip will be approximately $5,000. Their goal is to raise double that, $10,000, to be able to donate $5,000 to The Food Bank. If they are able to reach their goal, Cam and Kayla will be providing 15,000 meals to our neighbors in need throughout Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire Counties.
Cam — who hails from Moretown, VT — studied Philosophy at UVM. No matter what career he pursues, he hopes to work to help others. Having led trips at Keewaydin Canoe Camp in Salisbury, VT for six years, he is no stranger to long, physically difficult journeys.
“Hunger is a simple yet devastating ill in this world,” says Cam. “We thought ‘why not start with food, a basic human need that should be accessible to all but unfortunately is not.’”
Growing up in Northampton, Kayla remembers cutting flowers and picking vegetables at The Food Bank Farm as a child. Although her family supports local and sustainable agriculture through CSA farm shares, Kayla’s passion for food systems really began when she took a course entitled World Food Population Development during her first year at college.
“We discussed all sorts of issues on a local and global scale,” says Kayla. “One that truly stuck was addressing the issue of hunger. Since my freshman year, I created a course load that encompasses this issue.”
Kayla went on to study Community and International Development with a focus on food systems, food justice and hunger. She has interned for the hunger relief project Campus Kitchens and conducted research for a more sustainable food system at UVM through the Real Food Challenge. She hopes to work for an organization that addresses food security in the future.
Departing from Northampton just two weeks after their graduation, they will travel west to Niagara Falls, around the southeastern edge of Lake Erie, south of Chicago, and then straight through the great plains of Iowa and Nebraska. They will then drop into Colorado before pedaling through Utah and Nevada on the way to their final destination of San Francisco. To complete the journey within their goal of less than three months, they will ride an average of 50 miles per day. By the end of their journey, they will have pedaled approximately 3,500 miles.
“We are very active, outdoors-oriented individuals, but we’ve never actually done long-distance touring before. This will be a grand part of the adventure,” says Cam. They have been cycling extensively to prepare for the ride. They know the trip will be challenging — both physically and mentally. But they have each other and know they’re riding for a noble cause.
You can contribute to Cam and Kayla’s fundraiser and follow along with updates from their trip. Visit their fundraising page at http://www.youcaring.com/other/kayla-and-cam-s-ride-for-hunger-relief/308229.