The Morning of RESULTS’ Hunger Fast: “No Coffee?!?!” and the Real Reasons I’m Fasting

Meredith Dodson, Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns
April 13, 2011

It's 6:10 am when I open my eyes. I decided to let myself “sleep in” during RESULTS' day of observing the Hunger Fast with one of our longtime allies and someone I find tremendously inspirational: former member of Congress and Ambassador Tony Hall. Seemed like a good idea to skip my usual up-at-5:40-am-to-exercise routine and get some extra rest – I figure I'll want to conserve energy for a busy and (hopefully) reflective day on what this Hunger Fast means. I then sat up quickly with the sudden realization of observing this fast will mean today: no morning coffee?!?!?

As a parent of an adorable and energetic 2 year old, I count on my dose of strong iced coffee to give me the energy to hit the ground running in the morning. But, that same toddler is the reason I am participating in this – while I've always had a commitment to social justice and loved the privilege of working with an amazing network of RESULTS activists, now I feel the urgency of our work to provide health, education and economic opportunity on a deeper level. I am thinking about how horrible it would be to not have the resources to make sure he could eat, much less not be able to answer his questions of “Why?” now that he is talking. The stories of those who have had to watch their children and others suffer, powerless to do anything, haunt me in a more profound way now that I can look at my child and imagine that situation.

It's almost too much to bear, and it's easy to find convenient methods to block out the real reasons RESULTS does the work that we do. Yet, 24,000 children around the world continue to die every single day, primarily of preventable diseases and malnutrition. Here in the US, over 20 percent of our children live in poverty ($21,947 for a family of four). We need to stand up against the policies that will make this worse – whether it's the House Budget Committee's 2012 budget resolution on the floor this week, or spending caps that will lead to deep cuts in programs over time and reduce our ability to respond to economic crises here in the US and around the world. And, it's nice knowing that I'm not the only one within our network taking this on – as I got online this morning, I saw comments on social media from others in our network. I hope you'll join us – see our blog post on how to participate for details.

Ultimately, why I'm participating in the Hunger Fast today: to give myself the physical reminder of what's at stake, and force myself to think about the mothers and others facing these horrible dilemmas every day. It's clear to me that the priorities put forward in some of the “deficit reduction” packages will create more hunger, deepen poverty, and lead to despair for millions of families here in the US and around the world. And for one day, I want to force myself to really “get it”.