Despite slightly chilly weather, about 35,000 people began the 20-mile 45th annual Walk for Hunger Sunday to benefit Project Bread, an anti-hunger nonprofit.
Final fundraising numbers were not yet available Sunday morning, but the walkers were expected to raise about $3 million.
Last year, about 43,000 walkers raised $3.6 million for Project Bread. The organization distributed the money to food pantries and charities as well as, for the first time, community gardens and food cooperatives.
“Hungry people, they’re generally not without funds, but they don’t have enough funds,” said Ellen Parker, executive director of Project Bread. “So we’ve explored, how can we help people buy food at a much discounted rate?”
The walk is the first large public event in Boston since the Boston Marathon. There will be a bigger police presence, and organizers asked walkers not to carry large bags, Parker said.
Some walkers were concerned — one school group dropped out of the walk ahead of time, and others wanted to know if organizers were taking extra precautions.
But walkers’ worries tend to dissipate, Parker said, somewhere along the way from the Boston Common to Brookline, Newton, a slice of Watertown, Cambridge, then back over the Charles River to the Common.
“When everybody’s back, there’s such a celebratory feeling. A feeling of we’re strong, we’re back, we’re not going to let this get us down,” she said. “It’s really lovely.”