51 years later, the widow of Walk for Hunger founder again hits the trail for the cause

Marianne Hughes

Milton native and Dorchester resident Marianne Hughes met her late husband, Patrick Hughes, just one week before the first Walk for Hunger through Quincy on Sun., June 8, 1969 where she and Patrick, then a Paulist priest and the founder of the event, walked 29.6 miles with some 2,000 others who wanted to help feed those in need. The participants collectively raised $26,000 that day to fund two hunger projects.

Last Sunday, 51 years later, the 72-year-old Hughes, who married Patrick after he left the Roman Catholic priesthood and had three children, Joseph, Kristen, and Brendan, with him before he died in 1980, walked for the first time in what is now known as Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger. Her children and four grandchildren and some thousands of other participants accompanied her in a collective quest to raise more than $2.4 million to support community-based anti-hunger programs across the state.

“Patrick would never have imagined that the Walk for Hunger would exist 51 years later or that there would be a need for such an event to help combat food insecurity in a city, in a state, in a country as wealthy as ours,” said Hughes last week.

“Imagine what we could do if we took this kind of collective action on behalf of our democracy and on behalf of justice across the globe. Now, that would be amazing.”

The funds raised enable Project Bread to fund and implement anti-hunger solutions statewide through their community grants program and provide critical support statewide to community partners such as soup kitchens, food pantries, food rescue organizations and more.

The Hughes contingent – approximately 25 family members and friends ranging in ages from 5 to 75 – participated under two team names: the Patrick Hughes Hunger Posse and Hair Pin. Their goal was to raise $3,000 for the cause. Hughes and her friends walked the new three-mile route while the rest of the team walked the full 20 miles.

“Patrick instilled this drive to serve and work for justice in his children. This year’s Walk is extra special as his grandchildren, who never had the chance to meet him, will get to know their grandfather a bit through his fight to combat social injustice through the event,” said Hughes.