[This post is reprinted from the Stop Hunger Now blog page]
Going Hungry to Solve Hunger
Guest post written by Kara Cloud, a student at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, Connecticut, and participant in this year’s 30 Hour Famine at St. Philip Church.
Inmy first year participating in St. Philip’s 30 Hour Famine, I was initially most struck by the diversity of the people who joined together to fight hunger — young and old, poor and wealthy, religious and nonreligious, parents, high school and elementary school students. All people, all participants in the 2015 30 Hour Famine, were there because they wanted to be.
That’s what intrigued me: who would want to give up four meals, do some physical labor, and spend 30 hours not eating with kids of all ages whom they had never met before? I was interested to the point where I had to figure out what it was all about. I entered with curiosity — I had no expectations seeing as I had not partaken in any event like this before. And I had no idea what a life-changing experience I was about to have.
Typically, people are brought together over meals: holiday celebrations, cooking with parents, meeting up with friends for a dinner out. Yet, nothing has ever made me feel such a bond with others as voluntarily giving up our food for thirty hours to raise awareness for world hunger and poverty. How does your hunger help keep those thousands of miles away from being hungry? I’ve grown up asking myself the same question.
When I was in elementary school, the people working in the cafeteria would always scold the students who threw away their uneaten meals saying, “There are children starving in Africa!” However, it was never explained to us what we should do to help them — because clearly stuffing myself wasn’t going to make them less hungry and there was no efficient way to donate the excess food on my lunch tray to those in need.
It took until my sophomore year in high school before someone gave me an alternative that made sense to me: instead of taking what we have for granted, learn to live without and by doing so, learn to appreciate our privilege and do something with it.
We are lucky to be a nation that has to force ourselves to eat less, because we have the excess food at our fingertips. We are lucky to be able to deny our children dessert, because we have that dessert to deny. Why should we, who are only given these opportunities by chance, not feel some sort of responsibility to give others the same chance to eat a wholesome meal?
Going hungry is not the same as being hungry, and all of the participants at 30 Hour Famine were well aware of their privilege as they came together to package 20,000 meals for the hungry in Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world located in West Africa. We were all thankful that in 30 hours we would be guaranteed a meal, that the hunger we felt would pass. It made the experience more bearable, easing the grumbles in our stomachs.
However, while my feeling of hunger was pacified by knowing I could eat soon, my feeling of guilt at how lucky I am to be in the small portion of the world’s population that is guaranteed a meal at every breakfast, lunch, and dinner break was not as easily forgotten. We all were united with this recognition of our privilege and worked to grant others the same assurance of another meal, an escape from hunger, by taking donations at supermarkets, packing lunches, and making economical and substantial food through Stop Hunger Now and Catholic Relief Services in a system that uses basic ingredients to provide sustenance for a family of six for one meal.
Everything I learned — the hunger facts, the importance of unity, numerous causes to raise money for, greater appreciation for my privilege — is evident in my smile, my composure, my thoughts. I came to the 30 Hour Famine a blank slate ready to be changed — and I did change. I became more aware, more appreciative, and more global-minded. The most important thing for one’s first Famine experience is to come ready to be changed, and then to go inspire change in the world. Use the fuel given by the food are you are lucky enough to eat, and go fuel some change.
To learn more about the 30 Hour Famine and how you can participate, please visit http://stphilipnorwalk.weebly.com/30-hour-famine.html.