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Bicycle tour will fight hunger

BEMIDJI -- A bicycle tour will begin here this week to raise awareness of and support for efforts to address hunger.

The Hunger Ride: Feeding People, Feeding Souls is a regional ride that will begin Saturday in Bemidji and end May 16 in Moorhead, in tandem with the two-day annual assembly of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America at Concordia College.

"The Hunger Ambassador Cyclists, a core team of cyclists with a passion for lifting up and addressing in hopeful ways the issues of hunger and poverty, looks forward to crisscrossing the Synod," according to a press release from event officials.

They will work to focus attention on issues and signs of hope in communities as well as helping to coordinate, facilitate and share thoughts and ideas related to hunger.

The Hunger Ride, beginning Saturday in Turtle River, will travel through communities such as Walker, Park Rapids, Wadena, Perham, Detroit Lakes, and Hawley. A day ride in Moorhead will cap things off May 16.

But the event involves more than just cycling, with events planned throughout to increase awareness of hunger and poverty issues.

Locally, events are planned leading up to the kickoff of The Hunger Ride on Saturday:

• On Thursday, a 7:30 p.m. concert at First Lutheran Church will benefit the Bemidji Community Food Shelf. Music will be provided by the Turtle Island Ensemble, a group consisting of Jon Romer on guitar, Sarah Carlson on piano, Patrick Riley on bass, and Andrew Ronnevik on violin. The program will include diverse music from around the world. There is no admission charge, but a freewill donation will be taken to benefit the food shelf.

• On Friday, New Salem Lutheran Church, 7491 Island View Drive NE, will host the official kick-off at 9 a.m. service as cyclists and supporters will gather for worship, to receive a blessing and send cyclists on their way.

• An 11:30 a.m. photo-opp will be held at Paul and Babe Friday, followed by a noon lunch and program at Peoples Church, 824 America Ave. NW.

• The Seeds of Hope Bicycle Tour, to begin at 2 p.m., will lead participants along various gardens in the community through which vegetables are grown with the purpose of improving nutrition, especially among the impoverished and children.

• On Saturday, a breakfast fundraiser will be held at 8:30 a.m. at Calvary Lutheran Church, 2508 Washington Ave. SE, to benefit the ELCA World Hunger Unit.

• At 1:30 p.m., "A Nourishing Creation" is an event planned to be held about 4 miles south of Laporte along the Paul Bunyan Trail adjacent to Minnesota state Highway 200 to highlight the traditional, native ways people have been nourished.