CROP WalkThe annual CROP walk takes participants through downtown Red Bank. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.) 

Peanut butter, rice and beans. Together they make up the big three “Most Wanted” items in the 35th annual Red Bank CROP Hunger Walk initiative; a public-welcome, recreational fundraiser for community food drive efforts that returns to local streets and thoroughfares this Sunday.

Departing from (and returning to) the parking lot of Red Bank Regional High School on Harding Road in Little Silver, it’s an event that aims for some impressive goals: participation by 1,000 walkers, $135,000 in donations — and some 18,000 pounds of that aforementioned peanut butter, rice and beans.

The way to attain those numbers — and to end hunger here in one of the most affluent counties in the Garden State — is, as always, “One Step at a Time,” organizers say, and beginning at 2 pm, all members of the community are invited to join their friends, family and neighbors as they walk, stroll and roll their way around a five-mile circuit (with other options for participants — read on) that takes to the autumn afternoon air “rain or shine.”

Registration and sponsorship drop-off starts at 1 pm for the 2015 edition of the Walk, with DJ music by John Limyanski, a food collection depot for those requested items (as well as other nutritious, easy-to-keep staples for food pantries), a drop-off for the event’s Banner and Poster Contest, and a warm-up stretching session.

Also prior to the start of the walk, participants and supporters can purchase special CROP t-shirts, caps and wristbands to wear along the walk route. There’s also a chance to stop by the Oasis Backyard Farms Garden Table, and pick up organic onions, shallots, and garlic (free with a donation to CROP Walk) for participants to plant over winter.

From there the Walk traces a level route through Little Silver and the Red Bank neighborhoods east of Broad Street (where the annual Halloween Parade is set to commence at the same time, 2 pm Sunday) — with water stops along the way, designated rest stops at local churches, and on-the-go entertainment by Short Stop the Clown and characters from Chubby Penguins Parties.

Inspired by the actions of a network of American churches in the war-ravaged Europe of 1946, the Red Bank area CROP Walk traces its own history to 1981, when the late Sarah Dunikowski organized an endeavor that included Red Bank’s First Presbyterian Church and Rumson Country Day School among its first supporters. With Janie Schildge serving as event coordinator for 30 of those 35 years, the Red Bank effort has grown to encompass nearly 150 faith-based entities, schools, agencies, private businesses and community organizations (a current list appears here).

Walkers who’d love to keep pace — but for whom five miles is a bit too much a hike — are encouraged to take it as far as Eastside Park in Red Bank, before heading back to the RBR lot as part of a “short circuit’ walk. Transportation back to the RBR site is offered from any of the water stops along the route, courtesy of Red Bank Senior Center. There’s still time to sign up in advance, so take it here for all the details on registration, sponsorships, donation options, directions, parking, and much more.