Fasting to Combat Hunger

I am fasting this week, but I am not doing it alone. In case you haven't heard, thousands of individuals have decided to fast to protest threatened budget cuts to programs that help reduce hunger. This collective fast is, of course, a self imposed hunger, a matter of choice rather than circumstance. Come Friday evening, we all know we will eat again. This guarantee of a meal is a key difference that I keep in mind as I go through this short journey. Unlike those less fortunate, I do not stare across a foodless chasm not knowing how or when I will reach the other side. Unfortunately, too many people around the globe look across such a divide everyday.

New York Times columnist Mark Bittman is among those fasting this week (see his column "Why We're Fasting"). Bittman writes about food for the Times, so his action is especially poignant.

In the interest of full disclosure, my fast is not entirely selfless. Fasting, properly performed, is a good way to cleanse toxins from the body. I have been struggling with chronic congestion, and my hope is that the cleansing effect of the fast will help clear it up. Nevertheless, I, too, am concerned about the threatened reductions in funding to programs that have been helping malnourished individuals, particularly young children (for an example of how such programs can help, see this post from the Hunger and Undernutrition blog). I agree with Mr. Bittman that this is a moral issue. I hope our leaders make the right choice.