Why I'm Fasting for Food Justice (Part I)

I’m fasting this week—two days on just water, and another five on liquids—to stand up for the hundreds of thousands of people in developing countries that are at risk of losing U.S. food aid. If the proposed budget passes in Congress this week, support for domestic and international development—including food aid—will be cut by 41 percent.

Some of you may wonder what we hope to accomplish—a motley crew of idealists setting out on a collective hunger strike against Congress. Honestly, I don’t think that my fast will have any effect on Congress.  I even doubt that a massive and well-publicized fast by several famous religious leaders–which is what Tony expects to launch and what several of us are helping him to do—is likely to engage our Congressional leadership sufficiently to get them to reverse really bad proposed policy and budget actions.

But I do hope that the message from those of us who fast—and the fact that we are fasting, which makes it clear how dire we think the global situation is—might unleash a powerful response from our own communities and bases.  It is possible that many who get the various e-mails, press releases, blog posts and stories about the fast and the fasters might get mobilized.  Some of them—which means some of you—might even choose to fast for a day or live on a minimum food budget for a week or find some other way to participate symbolically. At the very least, you can tell Congress that you don’t believe people need to die for us to balance our budget.

If Congress hears this message and decides to act on it to stop the cuts to U.S. food and development aid, it won’t be because of me—one plucky 70-year-old Jewish activist choosing to make a dramatic gesture. It’ll be because of all of you who were touched by this action.

So I hope you’ll help with this advocacy effort—share this story, write to your members of Congress and tell your friends to do the same. And do it now. I’m going without food for just a week. If these budget cuts pass, a lot of people in the world will be hungry for much, much longer.