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Global Hunger: Students and Churches Take Action for Children and Families in Need

The Broken Bread Poverty Meal and 30 Hour Famine are two World Vision-sponsored events designed to raise awareness about hunger, poverty, and AIDS. (INTERACTIVE)

October 2007

Participants stand silently in line, waiting to receive their bowls of porridge during a Broken Bread Poverty Meal at World Vision's Day of Prayer on Oct. 1. The event is intended to resemble a food distribution at a refugee camp, and participants are invited to discuss ways to advocate for children and families who are affected by hunger, poverty, and AIDS. © 2007 Laura Reinhardt/World Vision
Currently, more than 850 million people around the world are suffering from severe hunger.

Recognizing the gravity of this crisis, students across the country are taking initiative to help provide food for hungry children worldwide. On Oct. 16, which is the 26th annual World Food Day, thousands of students will host a Broken Bread Poverty Meal on their college campuses and with members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Sponsored by World Vision's Acting on AIDS team, it's an event to raise awareness and inspire action for hungry children and families who often also are affected by extreme poverty and the AIDS crisis — all of which combine to create a vicious cycle of despair and suffering.

The second event is the 30 Hour Famine, held by nearly 20,000 church youth groups and school clubs across the nation. The Famine draws students closer to Christ and each other as they fast and raise funds to help provide food and care for children in impoverished places. Students can participate in one of two national Famine weekends: Feb. 22-23, 2008, or April 25-26, 2008.

The goal of both events is to help participants experience poverty firsthand. The fasting component of the 30 Hour Famine helps them feel what it's like to be hungry; Broken Bread depicts real-life stories of children and families suffering from hunger, poverty, and AIDS. Each event can be done independently or in coordination with one another.

30 Hour Famine

Groups taking part in this experience pick a weekend during which they fast for 30 hours to experience what hunger feels like. Leading up to that time, participants acquire sponsors or hold fundraising events to help feed and care for children through World Vision. Every $30 they raise is enough to help provide food and care for children and families for a month. The funds collected have a major effect on children's lives — but the biggest impact may be on the students themselves.

During the 30 hours of fasting, participants play educational games to help them better understand the causes of and possible solutions for global poverty. They also perform community service projects, along with time in prayer and devotions.

"I knew the 30 Hour Famine would be hard, [but] going 30 hours without food helped me realize what children go through every day," says Alicia, one teen who participated in the Famine. "This experience for me was a life-changing event. I got closer to God, and felt His presence with me that whole time."

INTERACTIVE: Helping the World's Hungry

Learn more about how students across the country are tackling global hunger and poverty. Watch videos about the 30 Hour Famine and Broken Bread Poverty Meal.

    Broken Bread Poverty Meal

In this experience, students are encouraged to fast for up to a day prior to the event. When they arrive, they're asked to stand silently in a line, where they are given a simple meal of porridge. It's an experience similar to a food distribution at a refugee camp. The porridge for the events is a nutritionally fortified corn-soy blend used in food aid distributions and donated by the North American Millers' Association.

Cards are distributed to each participant, which contain compelling, real-life stories of children and families devastated by hunger, poverty, and AIDS. After reading their cards and eating the porridge silently for several minutes, students reflect on the experience through discussion and prayer, which helps them confront the overarching question of how to respond to what they have learned.

"There are simple things we can do to fight problems like these that seem overwhelming," says Jyl Hall, World Vision's Acting on AIDS manager. "People affected by AIDS often live in developing nations where hunger is a problem. When they have access to fundamental nutritional needs, they have a real chance to lead much healthier lives. By having [participants] experience the stories of those people firsthand, we hope to motivate action through prayer and advocacy."

Action to Create Change

Students who partake in either event are left with several ways to act on the experience. These advocacy options include:
  • Participating in the 6,000 Challenge, which mobilizes students to raise $6,000 in funds and collect 6,000 signatures on a petition (.pdf) calling for reauthorization of the Global AIDS bill, with 10 percent of its funding set aside for orphans and vulnerable children;
  • Calling for continued funding for in-kind food aid, which obtains and distributes food supplies to suffering populations; and
  • Hosting additional Broken Bread events at other churches and college campuses.

    Taking the Message to D.C.

For World Food Day, the culmination of the national Broken Bread Poverty Meal will take place on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., where World Vision will co-sponsor an event with Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore. This event will feature the same components — a porridge meal with stories of children affected by hunger, poverty, and AIDS — with a special emphasis on influencing public policy.

Some 200 participants are expected for the Capitol Hill event, about half of whom will be college students from across the country.

Learn More

>> Read more about the Broken Bread Poverty Meal.
>> Read more about the 30 Hour Famine.

Four Ways You Can Help

>> Pray for families and children around the world who suffer at the hands of hunger, poverty, and AIDS. Pray that advocacy events such as the Broken Bread Poverty Meal and 30 Hour Famine will draw attention to these crises and inspire people to take action on behalf of those who are suffering.
>> Give monthly to help feed hungry children around the world. Become a Child Crisis Partner.
>> Sign up your church's youth group to participate in the 30 Hour Famine in 2008.
>> Send a letter to your elected officials, asking them to continue funding for food aid.

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