Sodexo to host second annual 5K for kids

SUNY Oneonta’s second annual Mindful Mile & Fight Hunger 5K event on Sunday, Sept. 23 will benefit Riverside Elementary School’s Action Hero Backpack Program, a weekend meal-assistance initiative for area children.

The race, which will take participants in a loop across campus, will kick off at 9 a.m. at Alumni Field House and the Mindful Mile will begin at 9:15 a.m. Registration is from 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. in the same location.

The Riverside Action Hero Backpack Program provides food for 107 children on the weekends. Nearly 50 percent of Riverside families receive backpacks, and the program is completely funded by donations from within the Oneonta community.

Riverside Principal Melinda Murdock said the funds raised by the event will help ensure the Action Hero Backpack Program can continue and expand.

“With a school poverty rate hovering around 65%, our mission is to support children and their families holistically,” Murdock said. “Providing backpacks filled with three complete family meals every Friday is an important part of this support. A full belly helps foster a healthy mind and a healthy mind allows people to be at their best.”

Sodexo’s partnership with Riverside began last year when Food Network Chef Aaron McCargo Jr. visited SUNY Oneonta classes, prepared his signature dishes in the dining halls, and planned a special dinner for campus and community guests, where guests were asked to bring donations of food for the Backpack program. McCargo works with Share Our Strength, an organization that helps nearly 12.6 million American children in their fight against hunger.

At the inaugural Mindful Mile & Fight Hunger 5K last year, there were more than 150 participants, including many student athletes and Greek Life students. Proceeds from the race – more than $2,600 – benefited the Lord’s Table feeding program and Hurricane Harvey relief.

Sodexo General Manager Jimmy Hamm said he’s excited about this year’s event because all of the money raised will stay local.

“We’re passionate about supporting the Riverside Backpack Program,” Hamm said. “It was an eye opener for me – and I think to all of us – to realize the number of kids in our own community who are going without food.”

Online registration is $20 for the 5K and $10 for the mile walk. Day-of registration is $25 for the 5K and $15 for the walk. For more information, visit