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Employees Run in 5k to End Food Insecurity

In the early morning hours of Sunday, October 15, 2023, three Kansas City office employees braved the cold autumn temperatures with their family members to help end food insecurity amongst children. The team took part in the 13th Annual Bill Cross 5k Walk/Run in Zona Rosa. Matt Cross (no relation), project manager, called upon his peers within the Kansas City office. Jackie Garcia, CAD Technician, and David Stephens, Marketing Coordinator, stepped up to the challenge.

Who is Bill Cross?

Bill Cross (1933-2007) was a long-time educator teaching students in the northland about history and government. In the 1990s, Bill was on the North Kansas City Board of Education. In 2000, he was elected to the Gladstone City Council where he served for seven years. Due to his countless contributions to kids and the communities, it is fitting to have this race named in his honor.

“Dr. Cross’ widow, Mary Cross, wanted to honor his memory by contributing to the lives of students,” Gwen O’Brien, Executive Director of Feed Northland Kids, said. “He spent so many years as a teacher and educator that food security for students in Clay and Platte counties was a great fit.”

Who is Feed Northland Kids?

Feed Northland Kids is an organization to help battle food insecurities amongst children in the community. The organization states one in seven children in Kansas City Northland struggle with food insecurity. To combat this devastating statistic, the organization partners with the Harvesters organization to pack “BackSnacks” for elementary school children. They also stock pantries where middle and high school aged children can go to secure food.

This charity struck home with our participants at the event. Matt explained the struggles his family went through growing up when he explained, “there was a point in my life where my mom relied on similar charities to help supplement the needs of her two growing children. This organization hits very close to home for me.”

Matt was joined by his wife, Melanie, to participate in the 5k. David, who brought his teenage daughter, Gwenith, with him to the race, talked about how this event opened a conversation up within his own family.

“Bringing my daughter to this race started the conversation with her about struggles others go through and how we can help,” David said. “I grew up poor and dealt with food insecurities myself. I don’t talk much about it with her, but she never realized some kids go home hungry and may not have even have two pieces of bread to put together.”

Jackie, who was joined by her husband, Alex, supports positive eating habits, and it is very important to her. She felt supporting this charity was a great way to support a cause that is near and dear to her.

“Promoting good eating habits is something extremely important to me,” Jackie said. “I have a lot of friends and family that struggle with food, and I wanted to be a positive influence to them. Participating in the 5k was a great way to support a cause that is very personal to me.”

How did Kaw Valley Engineering help?

Kaw Valley Engineering is a proud sponsor of the Bill Cross 5k. Not only are sponsorship dollars supporting the mission of Feed Northland Kids, but it is raising awareness within the ranks of employees. Although the Kansas City office is more impacted by this organization, the promotion within the company inspires other offices to find organizations to support as well. Company sponsorship is paramount for the organization to help the communities.

“The Bill Cross 5k is our one and only event that is put on by the organization each year,” Gwen explained. “Our budget has essentially doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic and we have to do everything we can to keep up with the increased need and costs of food.”

Gwen continued, “Nearly 90% of the fundraising for this event comes from sponsorships.”

Kaw Valley Engineering got involved initially when Matt was introduced by his neighbor, Judy, who works closely with the organization. Matt has promoted this event within the office for the last few years.

“My neighbor is part of the Feed Northland Kids organization, and she knew I enjoyed running,” Matt explained. “I’m always looking for races to put on the calendar and it’s great to stay active while supporting a great cause.”

Matt not only wanted to support a great cause, but he and his wife are avid runners as well. His wife, Melanie, took bronze in her age range and Matt took home the gold. But the biggest pay off was the sponsorship of the race. As Matt explained, it is our giving back that is a big impact when he said, “I’m proud to see our company represented on sponsorship materials and I get to represent Kaw Valley Engineering while running. I think it shows that we are invested in the community.”

Jackie had similar sentiments when she said, “Kaw Valley Engineering sponsoring such a great cause ensures my confidence that I work for an amazing company that cares about the community.”

Having an employer focused on community involvement and bringing awareness to groups in need is important to David.

“My daughter and I have always been involved in community events throughout our lives,” David explained. “This was just a great way to spend a Sunday morning and support an important organization.”

Although the organization is getting funds in to help, they are seeing the need grow rapidly.

“I think it is important to note that we are having a significant increase in requests for resources this year,” Gwen explained. “Our in-school pantries have increased by 25% and our biggest community food kit distribution ever was in the month of September. The need is not slowing down.”

If you wish to donate to this cause, you can do so by visiting 

Kaw Valley Engineering, established in 1982, is known as a team of experts who guide projects from inception to completion. With a comprehensive range of services in civil engineering, geotechnical engineering, surveying, construction observation, and materials testing, they cater to clients throughout the Midwest. Kaw Valley Engineering has offices in Junction City, Lenexa, Salina, Emporia, Wichita and Garden City, Kansas, as well as Kansas City, Missouri, strategically positioning themselves to serve their clients effectively.