HATFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts hosted its 13th annual Will Bike 4 food event in Hatfield on Sunday with 22News Storm Team Meteorologist Brian Lapis as the emcee.

This cycling event raises money for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. This event, which is presented by Stop & Shop, welcomes cyclists of all ages and levels to pedal towards a hunger-free future by cycling through the scenic Connecticut River Valley followed by an after-party.

According to a report from the Greater Boston Food Bank this year, western Massachusetts has the highest rate of food insecurity in the state, and the Will Bike 4 Food event is one way to help combat it.

“It’s a great cause, it’s a great valley to ride in,” expressed Mark Dean from Northampton.

According to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts there are more than 76,000 food insecure individuals in the area; this includes children and is 9-percent of the population.

So to aid in this fight against food insecurity cyclists of all ages and levels came to Hatfield to pedal towards a hunger-free future by riding through the Connecticut River valley. Cyclists were able to choose from a range of rides from expert to beginner, there was something for everyone, like the 100-mile century ride that began at 7:00 a.m., or the half-century ride that left at 10:15 a.m. The quarter-century ride left at noon and the 10-mile family run ride left at 1:30 p.m. 22News Meteorologist Brian Lapis emceed the event.

The Director of Development for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Jillian Morgan told 22News, “They are going all the way up to Guilford, Vermont and cutting back down. I believe they come through Leyden, Greenfield, down to Florence, and then back up to Hatfield.”

Julia McDougal Ronconi from Northampton says this is her first time cycling for food. She says food insecurities across the nation are concerning because people should always have access to food, “It’s not just a problem local to western Massachusetts, it’s a national problem, and it’s one we need to address as a society.”

Being able to have access to nutritious foods is a basic human need and the National Institutes of Health say it is the key to maintaining a healthy life.

“Will Bike 4 Food is a force for good, not just for our health and well-being, but also for our community,” said Andrew Morehouse, Executive Director in a news release from the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. “We invite everyone to come together for a day of cycling and good food. Together, we are creating a Western Massachusetts where everyone has access to enough nutritious food.”

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts says they hope to raise $250,000 from the cycling event.

Local News

Kiara Smith is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since March 2023. Follow Kiara on X @KiaraBSmith1 and view her bio to see more of her work.