Our family just finished a 5-day Hunger Challenge with the rest of our church. For the past five days, we ate the equivalent of UN rations: an alotted amount of oatmeal, rice and beans each day. We are doing this for two reasons -- to walk in the shoes, however briefly, of the world's hungry, and to use the money we didn't spend on our normal groceries for hunger relief.
The donations will go to local food pantries, to the town of Hinche, Haiti (we do medical and other mission trips there), and to the Saharawi people in western Algeria, who have lived as refugees (eating UN rations) for the past 30 years. Our church has developed an amazing relationship with these resilient people over the past 9 years.
I am amazed at how well Aaron and Nathan did with the Hunger Challenge. We talked and prayed about it in advance, and on two of the days they did have a somewhat normal cold lunch at school (minus a treat). But the rest of the time they ate the rations, and were very good sports about it. (They did continue to drink milk, and Anya Rashi's diet was supplemented with a few other things as well.) I think it helped them realize in a concrete way that some kids have next to nothing, and that God cares deeply about those who are hungry, so we should too.
One big revelation for me was about variety. I am so used to having fresh fruit, and lots of food choices. That was apparent by the third day, when our food became "eating to live" rather than living to eat, which is sometimes the case for me.
The other big revelation was about the privilege of being able to feed my children nutritious foods. This was really driven home on Friday, when Nathan came home from school with a cough and a 102.5 fever, which went up to 103.6 today. We chose to supplement his food with some other things to help his body recover, and I have cried thinking about mothers who can't do this, and about mothers who don't have Motrin or Tylenol to help their children feel better.
I'm grateful to be able to return to a normal diet today, especially so since Aaron caught the virus from his brother. But as I plan a good meal for tonight, I can't help but think of all the people who can't do the same thing -- their hunger challenge goes on.