Thursday, November 16, 2006

skipping a meal to fight world hunger

I had seen publicity about this in previous years, but this was the first year that I decided to actually stop making excuses and skip a meal as a way of "remembering the more than 850 million people who go to sleep hungry" as suggested by Oxfam America. My husband is also doing the fast today. We will donate the money that we would have spent on lunch to Oxfam. The traditional day for this is the Thursday before Thanksgiving, but you can choose any day that you like. Obviously this is not recommended for people with diabetes or various other conditions that would make skipping a meal dangerous or otherwise unhealthy.

I figured that I, as a healthy, well-fed American (a little overly well-fed, as evidenced by the fact that I have a blog dedicated to my weight-loss efforts) could easily afford to miss lunch one day. I had oatmeal for breakfast and a banana after my morning run, but I'm waiting until dinner to have anything else. It's a very small sacrifice for someone like me, but I really can't imagine what it must be like for the people who experience this every day, and not by choice. About an hour ago my stomach was growling but now it's just kind of achy. I find it freaky how aware I am of food smells. But I feel fine otherwise and I'm a little ashamed that it took me this long to finally try the fast. In other years, I thought, "Oh, I'll just donate," but I really think that having this feeling fresh in my mind will make the check a little bigger than it would have been otherwise, and I'm sure that is why Oxfam suggests the fast and not just the check.

Fasting is, of course, part of most major religions, but by the time I went to Catholic school, Good Friday fasting wasn't recommended for children anymore, so I never purposely have tried it. Muslims, of course, fast for the entire month of Ramadan:
Due to the lack of preoccupation with the satisfaction of bodily appetites during the daylight hours of fasting, a measure of ascendancy is given to one's spiritual nature, which becomes a means of coming closer to God. Ramadan is also a time of intensive worship, reading of the Qur'an, giving charity, purifying one's behavior, and doing good deeds.

As a secondary goal, fasting is a way of experiencing hunger and developing sympathy for the less fortunate, and learning to thankfulness and appreciation for all of God's bounties. Fasting is also beneficial to the health and provides a break in the cycle of rigid habits or overindulgence.
I think, with the major feast coming up next week and all the other opportunities coming up for overeating in the next month and a half, it is a good time to pause and reflect that for a lot of people, food isn't something to be taken for granted. And consider donating to Oxfam or to The Cherry Street Mission to help hungry people right here in Toledo, Ohio.


  1. I think about this food concept with the settlers - because most of their time was spent in hunting/gathering/planting/harvesting and they just barely got enough to survive.

    Have you ever read the juvenile book Hatchet about a boy who survives a plane crash and has to make it on his own with just a hatchet? ALL his time was spent on hunting/gathering and trying to stay warm.

    I think I read in a Laura Ingals Wilder biography that what she thought of as normal hunger/food was near starvation for most of her childhood.

    And when she wrote Farmer Boy she spent so much time on the FOOD, that he grew up with on a big farm, because it was like a fairytale to her.

    I do remember in one of the later Little House Books (when they lived in town for a winter) how dependent they all had become on buying things at a store and not growing themselves - so when a train didn't make it through before winter - they were in real trouble.

    I know in some areas there are big community gardens - I have always thought that was such a wonderful idea - promoting fresh veggies, teaching skills, educating on nutrition.

    I tried to take a Master Gardener's class several years ago - it drove me crazy and I ended up not finishing the course. One of the field trips was a couple with a acres and acres of kitchen gardens - on a truly huge scale - everything you can think of and more - and most of it went to waste. They were a very lonely retired couple with estranged children - it was their hobby to garden/grown - the whole time I was there I kept suggesting to them that they contact a homeless shelter, a church food bank, etc. I hope that they did - because the food was truly wonderful and as lonely as they were - the interaction with a group would have done them lots of good.

  2. I remember reading Farmer Boy and being amazed that one person could eat so much. The reason you give makes a lot of sense. The clothes from that era are so tiny, probably because everyone was malnourished. I never read Hatchet but one of my favorite books as a kid was about a girl who decides to run away to an island cabin her family owns, but then all her food gets stolen by a raccoon and the cabin has been burned to the ground, and she has to figure out how to survive on her own. She was fat, I remember, at the beginning of the story, and gets thin -- this is sad, that part of the reason I liked it so much was because of that.

    Fasting yesterday was interesting but I think you'd have to do it for longer to really get a sense of it as anything spiritual. Mostly to me it just felt uncomfortable. We really enjoyed our dinner, though. It would be a lot different to be hungry not by choice, and not to know that you could make it up with a nice dinner later.

  3. Good for you for doing this. I've fasted before for religious reasons and it's hard to get past just being hungry to focus. Those who really are just hungry aren't trying to focus, they are just trying to stay alive. It helps to remember how blessed we are.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07