Some 51 middle school and high school students from Juneau and Haines spent their weekend on an empty stomach.
To get a feel for what it means to live hungry, and to raise money to fight the problem, church groups fasted from Saturday to Sunday during the annual "30-Hour Famine."
This international Christian movement occurs every February and Juneau churches have raised more than $26,000 since they began participating several years ago, said Katie Coate, youth minister at Glacier Valley Baptist Church. This year students raised more than $6,000 by collecting donations. The money goes to the international organization World Vision and to the Southern Baptist Hunger Relief Fund.
The fasting started at midnight on Saturday. Coate said most students weren't very scared, but were up for the challenge.
"Before you do it, you have to decide you want to do it," said Andrea Axmann, a sophomore at Juneau-Douglas High School.
Students from Juneau's Chapel by the Lake and Haines' New Hope Fellowship also participated.
The students spent their Saturday collecting canned goods, volunteering with the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and Love Inc., and serving a soup lunch at the Glory Hole.
"It had turkey in it and it smelled really, really, really good," said Axmann.
The hardest part was not eating during regular meals, said home-schooled sophomore Michael Patz.
"I definitely felt like the lack of nutrition kicked in," Patz said.
The students finished the event with a light breakfast Sunday morning. Some said the experience helps them understand the world's hunger problems.
"I think the word is 'empathy,'" said Patz. "That's when you get a taste of what other people are feeling."
Axmann said the fast taught her that Americans live in a nation that has more than enough food for itself. With effort, people can learn how to live on $1 day, she added.
Andrew Petty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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