30-Hour 'Famine' Raises Money and Awareness

July 13, 2017 | Terry McLeod

Living in the Pacific Northwest is a special treat. We’re surrounded by beautiful countryside, have a strong economic environment and enjoy a relatively peaceful political climate. But for 30 hours on April 28–29, teenagers at Summit Northwest Ministries in Post Falls, Idaho, experienced a little bit of the challenges that many people face in other parts of the world.

We teamed up with World Vision to raise money to help families in developing countries survive hunger and poverty-related challenges. Here are just a few statistics that we learned:

  • Almost 800 million people worldwide are chronically hungry and suffer from a lack of adequate food;
  • About 291 children die every hour from hunger-related causes;
  • In the past 30 years, efforts like ours have served to cut preventable deaths of children in half, from more than 30,000 a day to fewer than 16,000 a day.

For our event we went without food from noon Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday. Everyone got one large bottle of fruit juice, and they could drink as much water as they wanted. We also made Sadsa balls for backup snacks if kids started to feel too wobbly. These are not very exciting, but are similar to what many people eat on a daily basis. Think of a pale glob of cornmeal paste, and you get the picture.

We did a variety of activities to better understand how millions of people in poverty are forced to live. These ranged from building a cardboard shantytown to sleep in to trying to barter in order to gain the right balance of resources (vegetables, grains, dairy, clothes, etc.) to take care of a family.

We followed the life of Bakhita in an interactive process that required us to make difficult decisions and then live with the consequences. For example, after a storm destroys her crops, should she sell her livestock for money or move into the city and hope to find a job?

In addition to raising more than $2,000 for World Vision, we continued our church's partnership with the local food bank to assist families in our own community. We were able to collect more than 500 pounds of food to donate to the Post Falls Food Bank, which serves an average of 100 families every day.

Saturday evening we felt very fortunate to end the event with a hearty meal of haystacks, cookies and leftover Sadsa balls. After experiencing hunger firsthand, we now look at the world, and our nearby community, with a different perspective.