Second Harvest Food Bank Empty Bowls 5K Crit Run


Ray Boden is wearing bright green running shoes. Like, really, really bright.

He is walking through Second Harvest Food Bank, talking a mile a minute about the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic and he has notebooks stuffed with papers under his arm.

From Ray (he is the Director of the WSCC and Producer of Gears & Guitars) we learn that this multi-day event that spans Memorial Day weekend is quickly coming together; bands are being booked for Gears and Guitars, routes are being planned for the Gran Fondo, logistics are being worked out for the main stage on 4th street, and permits are being secured for the route of the Criterium.

Ray stops. He takes in a deep breath, pauses, and says: “It is going to be really, really great.”

Entering its sixth year, the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic has already established itself as one of the country’s most prestigious professional cycling events. Thousands of spectators from all over the country– all over the world— flock to Winston for this event, putting our small, Southern city and its surrounding countryside on the map for cycling enthusiasts.

“Some outside people say ‘why don’t you bring your event here?’” says Boden, speaking of larger cities. “But why would we? We are from here. And we can do it.”

It’s no small point of pride to Boden or the other event organizers that they are all Winston-Salem locals. Dr. Richard Rauck, Michael Hosey, Sterling Swaim, Lisa Lineback, and others connected to the Criterium or Crit (a high speed, high intensity bike race on a closed loop circuit) and the development of the National Cycling Center in downtown Winston-Salem each are deeply rooted in the city, personally and professionally. “It’s very homegrown, and why shouldn’t it be?” say Boden.

This is why it made perfect sense for the Cycling Classic to team up with Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina to introduce another event to the weekend: the Empty Bowls 5K Crit Run.

Second Harvest is also a very homegrown organization, established 35 years ago to reduce food waste and move food away from landfills and into the kitchens of food insecure Northwest North Carolinians. Like the Classic, Second Harvest has seized on the idea that everything we need is right here: food bankers collect food from local farmers, distributors and retailers, as well as from food drives, and get it to the families that need it the most. The idea is that here there is plenty, we just have to tap into it.

“The spirit of Second Harvest really matches the spirit of the Cycling Class and Criterium,” says Carolyn Breese, Director of Development and Community Relations at Second Harvest. “The food bank moves and redistributes 37 tons of food every day. Our employees and volunteers do this work because they love Winston-Salem — and they love Northwest North Carolina.”

The Empty Bowls 5K Crit Run will take place on the Criterium bike race loop and be a fundraiser for Second Harvest Food Bank, with the proceeds going to help purchase food and support other Second Harvest programs such as cooking and nutrition classes, FNS outreach, and culinary job training classes for local people who struggle with food security. This means walkers will be on the same course as the bicyclists. The run joins a growing number of road races and other athletic events that benefit the food bank, helping to make the connection that hunger is a health issue, just like exercise and physical activity. “We know that heart disease, obesity and diabetes are more prevalent in communities with low food security and fundraisers like the Empty Bowls 5K Crit Run help Second Harvest and our partner network focus on bringing the healthiest food and nutrition programs to those who need it the most,” says Breese.

“The bigger we get the more we want to hold onto the threads of this community,” says Boden of the Empty Bowls 5K Crit Run, which will give families a meaningful way to get involved in the weekend’s events. After all, it is the aspiration of the National Cycling Center to become not only an Olympic training center but also a nonprofit deeply rooted in promoting community health by providing bike shares, physical education and wellness programs. Similarly, Second Harvest sees its organizational future as one investing in the health of people and communities, by ensuring healthy food access as a foundation to greater community health.

“And it’s all local. All of it,” says Boden.

To learn more about the weekend’s events and to buy tickets/register visit


First Annual Second Harvest Food Bank Empty Bowls 5K Crit Run
The Empty Bowls 5K Crit Run, an exciting, new addition to the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic starting at 4PM on May 26th, is a unique opportunity for walkers and runners to follow the very same course that the professional cyclists will be competing on throughout the weekend. Food trucks and a concert at Bailey Park will follow the race at 6 PM —all part of a jam-packed weekend of excitement, starting with the Gears and Guitars concert Friday night and continuing through Monday when international cyclists will compete.


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