Hunger pangs

In an effort to raise awareness about world hunger, a group of Fort High students starved themselves for 30 hours last week.
Participating in the world-wide program “30-Hour Famine,” the 83 students camped out at the high school and went for more than a day without anything to eat.
“They’re to experience what it’s like to go hungry,” said Al McManaman, the staff advisor to the Fort High Student Executive Council. “It’s not an extremely long time.
“The goal is raising awareness of what’s going on in the world with people going hungry,” he noted. “It seems pretty far away, but even in cities like Toronto it happens, as well as in developing nations.
“Most kids said it wasn’t that bad,” McManaman said of the famine. “Some kids were tired, but that was more because they probably stayed up a little too late.
“Most kids had a really good time.”
Students weren’t allowed to eat anything, but were allowed to drink juice and water in an effort to stay hydrated. The famine began last Friday at 2 a.m., “while they were sleeping,” and ran the whole school day.
Students then spent the night at the school and were fed breakfast at 8 a.m. on Saturday once the 30 hours had elapsed.
The participants were given a variety of activities to participate in. They could play basketball and volleyball, and they had access to the computer labs to play games and surf the Internet.
They also brought their own entertainment in the form of video games, card and board games, and even a guitar.
The students also brought tents and set up a kind of tent city in the school’s large gym—one side for girls and one for boys. It really resembled a tent city you might see in images from a Third World country where famine is more prevalent.
“The tents give a little more privacy,” McManaman said. “It does give the sense of a village.
“Some groups [when doing the famine] take it a little further, putting water [like a well] in the middle with just a cup or two [to resemble such Third World conditions], he explained, but added “as soon as you make it more hard core, you might not get as many kids.”
McManaman said this year’s turnout was the best to date here, raising about $4,000 altogether. Each student was required to raise a minimum of $25 so they would take the famine seriously, he explained.
“One student raised $300,” he noted.
“We have done it on and off for about five years,” McManaman added. “I think it’s the most money we’ve ever raised.
“By far, this year was the best turnout. In the past, the maximum we had was 40.
“It was a huge cross-section of kids that came out,” McManaman continued, referring to the fact the students who participated had a variety of interests.
He also felt the cause brought out students who may not normally participate in such school functions.
“There was a lot of Grade 9s that came out, so we should have a good turnout for the next couple of years,” he said.
He explained part of the goal of having the “30-Hour Famine” is to promote leadership building within the student body. He said it’s hoped students who participated this year might want to take over roles in organizing the “famine” or even sit on the S.E.C. next year.
McManaman said more could be done at this event, either in the way of making it more “hard core” or by having other activities, but that the school prefers when the students take the initiative and make the decisions.
“We could have a guest speaker come in to talk about famine in the future,” he said. “We’ll look at that, but we want to leave it to the students to organize.”