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Food Fast set for SJHS students

By Jim Sullivan

The Tribune

IRONTON — For 10 hours on Oct. 2, students at St. Joseph High School will become familiar with what millions of people throughout the world experience 24-hours-a-day, seven days-a-week — the thoughts and pain of hunger.

The day-long retreat has the Catholic high school student body “facing the fast” by not eating from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Along the way, students will have opportunities to reflect on the day-long sacrifice while volunteering at different food banks and care centers throughout the Tri-State area.

The retreat is being organized by religion teacher Maria Whaley who is in her eighth year at the school.

Food Fast is a 24-hour awareness program for Catholic youth that focuses on global poverty and hunger. Food Fast is one of many efforts under the worldwide network of Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services.

The program teaches youth about issues faced by their peers in the developing world: Encouraging youth to take action of behalf of the poor and hungry along with calling youth to share their perspectives and knowledge about the world.

Whaley said students have begun to see the enormity of the hunger crisis worldwide while leading up their Food Fast retreat.

“The seniors especially are very excited about this event,” Whaley said. “I hope that all students will get an awareness of the blessings that they have and appreciate the sacrifices made every day.”

The retreat and fast will start at 8 a.m. with prayer, readings and reflections. Later in the morning, speakers from Christ United Food Pantry in Ironton and the Ashland Community Soup Kitchen will talk to students about how hunger affects many locally.

After a prayer of sending, students will travel offsite at 10:40 a.m. to assist in delivering and serving food at the following sites: Ashland Community Soup Kitchen, OLBH Meals on Wheels, Ashland Hospice Care Center, Christ United Food Pantry, City Welfare Mission, Bryant Nursing Care, Jo-Lin Nursing Care, Open Door School and St. Lawrence Grade School.

After an afternoon of continued reflection, prayer, activities and mass, students will celebrate the day by cooking and eating a meal of meatless dishes from around the world.

Whaley said many of the dishes selected come from counties currently experiencing hunger and poverty issues like Cameroon, Haiti and Cambodia. Some of the dishes on the menu include Congolese Saka-Madesu (Greens and Beans), Tanzanian Flatcakes and Indonesian Spiced Rice.

“The meal will allow students to join in the spirit of the day,” Whaley said.

As part of the retreat, students are currently seeking sponsorships for each hour of their 10-hour fast. Those willing to sponsor a student should contact Whaley at the school at (740) 532-0485.