This was the third year our youth group participated in World Vision’s 30 hour famine. The 30 hour famine is a program developed for youth groups to fast from food for 30 hours to raise money to feed hungry children around the world. It’s a great program on multiple levels.
Prior to the 30 hour famine, my kids’ biggest food-related issue was that I expected them to eat vegetables. During the fast, they can drink juice and water, but they actually get a taste (just a taste) of what it’s like to go to bed hungry. What it feels like to have your energy wane because they’re hungry.
They also have an opportunity to learn about the impact of hunger and poverty around the world. World Vision’s program includes Tribe, a survivor-type game youth groups can adapt for their own needs. It has thoughtful and fun games that teach about hunger, education, water security, economic independence, and inadequate access to health care. This year’s Tribe focused on Ethiopia, and we learned some really cool facts about Ethiopia’s history and culture.
Finally, the kids have a chance to make a difference. Instead of leaving kids with a lot sad statistics, World Vision invites them to raise money for their programming around the world. They also encourage youth groups to engage in a local project to alleviate hunger in their own areas.
Our service time for the past two years has been packing non-perishables to be given out at a food bank near our church. The director gives us a brief talk about the breadth of neighbors in our area who need food assistance. The kids also have a chance to imagine what their own meals would look like if their pantry had in it only the staples we packed that day.
Obviously, I’m not a youth pastor, but I didn’t have to be to adapt this program to our small church. I couldn’t have run it without the parents who participated, but I think we all learned something new. World Vision has two weekends when large numbers of students around the country participate. This February weekend worked well for us because Lent is a traditional time for fasting. Last year, we participated in the April weekend, but the first year we chose our own date in July. If you’re looking for a flexible project for your youth, I highly recommend the 30 hour famine.