Chiditarod: America’s coolest food drive / shopping cart race?

At Idealist, the sporting world is not our usual beat. The Olympic Games, however, hit us where we live as an inspiring, international gathering of outstanding individuals and teams. So we’re taking this opportunity to pay homage to excellent athletes, winter beauty, fun games, and a host of other concepts we could tie (even tenuously) to Sochi. Welcome to Olympics Week on Idealists in Action.

If you’re like me, you’ve been looking for most of your life for a combination charity food drive, beauty pageant, costumed shopping cart race, pub crawl, talent show, nonprofit fundraiser, and (most importantly?) chaos generator.

Luckily, the Chiditarod is here to answer our call.


Chiditarod competitors get down in 2013
(image via Chiditarod Facebook)

In the grand traditions of the original Iditarod dogsled race in Alaska—and the urban genre-founding San Francisco Urban Iditarod and New York City Idiotarod—Chicago (get it? Chi-ditarod?) started their own race in 2006 and has since become a strong presence on the now-nationwide annual urban Iditarod scene.

How do they stay so strong?

  • A winning premise. At its heart, the Chiditarod is a costumed shopping cart race through two Chicago neighborhoods, scheduled to coincide with the kickoff of the actual Iditarod. Teams of (human) participants roll decorated carts filled with 60-plus pounds of food for donation through the streets for up to five miles—rain or shine—and encounter checkpoints, contests, bribe-happy judges, and sometimes friendly sabotage attempts along the way.
  • Some great add-ons. The Chiditarod tradition has grown to include such additional highlights as a t-shirt, patch, and poster design contest; companion bowling fundraiser event called the ChiditaBowl; and a summertime Kiditarod for the little ones.
  • A very worthy cause. By encouraging its community to donate food and cash beyond the outlays required to participate in the race, the Chiditarod (itself a nonprofit organization) has donated over 80,000 pounds of food to the Greater Chicago Food Depository and $40,000 to organizations that provide immediate hunger relief or work for food justice.

This year’s Chiditarod is on March 1. Ladies and gentlemen, start your carts.

Chiditarod registration closes this Saturday, February 15. If you’re in the Chi-Town area and want to sign up, or if you just want to read more about the event’s history and gawk at some funny photos, hit up their website.


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Fight hunger with Idealist!

Photo Credit: World Food Day US and Cananda, Flickr

Every night, 1 in 8 people goes to sleep hungry. To address this statistic, on Tuesday, October 16th, people around the world came together and participated in World Food Day, an annual event that since 1981 has encouraged people to take action to end hunger. While World Food Day has passed, if you’re interested in being part of this movement and changing that statistic for the better, there are plenty of jobs and internships on Idealist that focus on fighting hunger.

  • If you’ve always wanted to eliminate hunger while having a cool job title, check out the Director of CHOW position at the Broome County Council of Churches in Binghamton, NY. CHOW stands for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, which distributes over 130,000 pounds of food every month through over 30 soup kitchens. Just think how snazzy your new business card would look.
  • If you want to work in NYC,  take a look at the Development Associate position at Edible Schoolyard, an organization that helps teach healthy, organic eating habits to public school kids in New York City.
  • For people interested in affecting the roots of the hunger problem, Just Harvest is a public policy advocacy group in based in Pittsburgh, PA. It works with a variety of public programs, from farmers markets to food stamps, and it currently has a bountiful autumn crop of jobs posted on Idealist.
  • Of course, interesting jobs that fight hunger are not limited the the United States. You could be part of the effort to lessen dependence on food aid at the One Acre Fund in Kenya. Ten jobs were listed in October, so the Fund is serious about helping African farmers become more productive.
  • If working in one country is too much of a commitment for you, check out Medair. It’s a relief organization that works across the world in conflict spots, natural disaster zones, and basically anyplace where hunger is a problem. You could work in Afghanistan, Madagascar, or Haiti, to name just a few of the available job opportunities.

Finally, if none of the above postings appeal to you, don’t lose hope. You can always apply to be a beekeeper in Cameroon.

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