The 40 HOUR Famine at Boston College.

November 9th and 10th – O’Neill Plaza

Sign the Pledge. Fast for the Hungry. Create Art. Create Change.

For questions, visit our What is the 40 Hour Famine? page or email Zack at desmondz@bc.edu

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Over 100 students hungry today

Today was an enormous success. I am pleased to say, with the 24th hour drawing near, we had over 100 participants pledge to fast today. I’d like to thank everyone that stopped by today to listen or to pledge or to outline people’s bodies in chalk, and encourage you all to join us again tomorrow. Thanks is also due to Fr. Mario for his talk on Fasting, Spirituality, and Social Justice tonight, and to those who joined us.

It will be raining tomorrow so we’ll be in the O’Connell house for most of the day, but we will still be breaking the fast at 4pm in O’Neill Plaza, right next to the library.

Please join us, no matter how long you fasted or when you plan on stopping. I’d love to have you there. 



A little inspiration for those of you feeling the pangs.


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3 REAL Reasons To Join the 40 Hour Famine

You wanted reasons. You got them.

Three REAL reasons to join The 40 Hour Famine:

1. Public demonstrations really CAN change the way people behave. The more participants we have in the space, the more curiosity it creates and the more people we can challenge to think differently about hunger. A lot of people talk, this is your chance to do.

2. You do NOT have to fast for the full 40 Hours. The pledge asks that you make a commitment to a number of hours within 40 Hours. Fast for 3 meals, 24 hours, or sunrise to sunset, this is about finding a way to fast in solidarity so it has to suit YOU.

3. Though we will be hungry, we won’t be idle. There are plenty of activities and presentations that will be available to participants and passers-by alike, along with a great talk from Father Mario Cisneros, SJ about Fasting, Spirituality, and Social Justice. But I think the talk and the activities will have a greater impact if you’re actually fasting.


I’m trying to flood BC facebooks with this event, so invite 4 friends to the 40 Hour Famine RIGHT NOW — it will only take 2 minutes — and you can be apart of changing our small little corner of the world right now, and if we really spread the word, a bigger corner in the future.



Fasting Begins: Wednesday, November 9th  at 12:01AM (wherever you are)

40HrFamine Talks and Activities: Wednesday from 11:50a to 7:00p (O’Neill Plaza)

40hrFamine Talks and Activities: Thursday from 10:15a to 3:00p (O’Connell House)

Fasting Ends: Thursday, November 10th at 4:01PM (location TBA)


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Tell Your Friends!

In 5 DAYS!

Fasting BEGINS at 12:01 AM on Wednesday, November 9th.

Prepare your Tuesday night accordingly! 

Fasting ENDS at 4:01 PM on Thursday, November 10th.

There’s a ton of great stuff in between!




Check out ASO’s Taste of Africa

at 7:30 on Thursday, November 10th.

Be careful not to over eat.







Like us on Facebook, tell your friends and sign the pledge!

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Schedule Posted!

We now have a schedule for the 9th and 10th.

The way it works:

Starting with the 12th hour of fasting (12pm), we will be presenting 8-minute presentations during passing periods in O’Neill Plaza.  THEN for the remaining 50 minutes, we have a creative activity loosely based on the preceding presentation. People are welcome to stay as long as they like, alone or with friends, to listen, to fast, to make art, or do all three.

At 6:00pm on Wednesday (Hour 18)

Father Mario of the Jesuit Community is speaking on the subject of Fasting, Spirituality and Social Justice.

From 7:30 to 10:00pm on Wednesday (Hours 19 – 22)

Vocalists, musicians, poets, dramatic interpreters, and human beings will all be invited to speak or perform, with pieces on or about their experience with food, famine, hunger, and/or inequality. Think: fish bowl meets poetry slam meets LiveAid unplugged. 

Check out the SCHEDULE page for more info.

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The Big Idea

What’s the big Idea?

THESIS: Our food related actions here have consequences on food access, hunger, and famine abroad. Our art projects and informational presentations will be developed from this thesis.

“Here” is a dynamic reference to a number of communities: BC, the US, the UN, the developed world. “Abroad” refers primarily to the developing world, specifically Sub-Saharan Africa and Central America in my research (based largely on a book by Roger Thurow and Scot Kilman, called Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty. “Food-related actions” is a blanket term that refers to: US and EU farmer subsidies, US policy on food aid, US agricultural policies, UN definitions of food insecurity, domestic food waste, lingering policies from Structural Adjustment Programs, the Green Revolution and the legacy of Norman Borlaug and others. The “consequences” are complex because so many are reflections and reinforcing agents of the food related actions that caused them.

As you know, the EVENT is in O’Neill Plaza. However, we’re looking to find a space that is nearby, warm, and large to act as an alternative in case of rain or freezing cold. This tentative locale will provide those fasting with a space to come together for activities, support, and solidarity.

Check out the Schedule and Activities post to learn more about what you can expect come November 9th and 10th.

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Schedule and Activities

We’ve heard a lot of questions about what our schedule looks like for the 9th and 10th and how people can engage in the collaborative art components of this demonstration. Those are great questions.



Living Biographies: Taking stories from Enough by Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, participants and passers-by will be able to follow the stories of actual individuals by being asked to make life or death choices in response to actual circumstances in their underdeveloped regions of the world. This activity is designed to highlight way farmer subsidies in the United States, domestic agricultural policy and the UN system of international food aid undermines agricultural development and food independence in the developing world, especially in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

40 minutes of silence for those who are suffering with lives defined by starvation, for those lost to hunger, and for those who have lost their families, homes, and livelihoods to famine.

An “Urban Survival Game” that depicts the lives of  impoverished regions of the world that are also high in HIV/AIDS prevalence through an interactive simulation, as taught by Professor Shelley White of the Sociology Department. I’m also trying to get her to speak about her experience with HIV/AIDS patients in Lesotho, but we’ll see.

collaborative sculpture / video project that highlights our waste at BC and allows anybody who wants to add to the sculpture a chance to contribute.

I am trying to convince a mentor of mine, Father Mario, SJ to speak on the connection between fasting and spirituality, how slowing down and fasting in solidarity with the marginalized hungry can connect us to a deeper sense of humanity, how this base understanding of the human condition can fuel our faith, our love, and our seeing of “the other”. A meditation led by Buddhist practitioner Sarah Lipton (Boston Shambhala Center) will supplement this presentation.

An enormous cut-out of a man’s body that highlights the impacts of starvation on different parts of the human body, along with a presentation on the effects of malnutrition on children and adults, hopefully from Joanne Burke, a dietician and sustainable agriculture guru that has worked closely with Professor Laura Hake of SustainBC (not yet confirmed).

Ecopledge — an exhibition of photography — Around the world in 25 diets, around BC in 25 meals,  highlighting our relationship to waste against the backdrop of acute hunger experienced by over 15% of the world’s population — A BILLION PEOPLE.

I am in conversation with the Women’s Resource Center to provide a presenter of Famine from the Gendered Perspective.

Hopefully a representative from Americans for Informed Democracy will be contributing a speaker to discuss the relationship between foreign famine and homeland security, arguing that boosting agriculture and development and ending hunger isn’t just the right thing to do, it is the smart and strategic thing to do.

I will lead other presentations/discussions on the following topics:

  • Who, where, how, and what is a Famine?
  • Famine Is Genocide
  • Malnutrition and the Leaders of Tomorrow
  • What can We do?

Art Activities for the event will include:

  • Creating the Face of Hunger – An activity of making masks, slated to happen twice, once in the first few hours of fasting, again in the last few hours.
  • How We Know Hunger – 2×4 foot posters that are completely blank — To be filled with images, (drawn, painted, pasted, etc) that exemplify hunger for the artist/participant.
  • Feeling Hunger – A couple hours at the end of the first night for poets, singers, dramatists and writers to present their take on famine, the global food crisis, and/or their personal relationship to hunger, whatever it may be.
  • Collaborative Performance – ANY interested participants will be invited to come together to create a short collaborative performance piece that can be presented either at the end of the event on the 10th, or thereafter.
  • Professor Mark Cooper’s Collaborative Sculpture class will also be installing a piece that will invite individual community members to contribute to the message of the 40 Hour Famine, that our individual actions can and do have an impact in the fight against world hunger.
CHECK OUT the SCHEDULE PAGE to see updates, additions, and revisions to our schedule. 
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FAMINE at BOSTON COLLEGE — Nov. 9th and 10th

Students, Artists, Activists, Academics!

If you’re here, you’ve heard about The 40-Hour Famine at Boston College from November 9th & 10th in O’Neill Plaza. We invite you to read on, share our message, and take part in the active effort to redefine hunger and our relationship to it.

The Message:

People are starving. Here in Boston, the US, the world. Let’s do something about that.

The Obstacle:

We know that. What we don’t know is how that feels. We’ve heard that feast begets famine, but we don’t really know what “famine” means. We’ve heard that people die daily from hunger even though there is enough food on earth to feed everyone — but we don’t know why. We don’t know that we, as a nation and a culture, might be perpetuating world hunger rather than relieving it. Or if we know these things, we may not really BELIEVE them.

The Objective:

To show, to prove, to illuminate, to demonstrate, that our actions here have enormous, life-altering impacts elsewhere. To create a conversation that changes our BELIEFS about world hunger. Once our beliefs change, actions can follow suit.

The Tactics:

Creating art, telling stories, and building solidarity are the three things that I feel carry information from the brain to the heart, from thought to action.

The 40 Hour Famine is a COMMUNITY FASTING PROJECT, slated to take place in the days LEADING UP TO Hunger Awareness and Homelessness Week — Nov. 12th to Nov. 20th. Members of the BC community will be invited to take a pledge to fast for 40 hours in solidarity with men, women, and children around world who struggle with hunger on a daily basis — they will also pledge to attend a number of events held by the African Student Organization and other organizations for the upcoming Hunger Awareness Week.

It is designed to incite unexpected interactions between BC students and hunger, to raise awareness about global food inequalities, and to pique the interest of the average BC student by demonstrating information about famine, hunger, and food — artistically, collaboratively, and accessibly.

It is a famine awareness project. It is a waste reduction project. It is an art and social justice project. It is global, it is local, it is immediate, and it is very very far away. This is a place where…





in SOLIDARITY with the chronically hungry,

and we want you to JOIN US.

That’s my pitch. If you’re interested in participating or contributing time, energy, and/or ideas to the demonstration, email me at the address below. Most of all, we are in need of person-power. We need people that want to be involved in spreading this message, and/or diversifying it.  If you are interested in participating but not necessarily contributing to the creation of the project, forward this message to your friends, club members, or department head and start spreading the word.

Thank you for checking out our site and I hope to hear from you soon.

Zachary Desmond


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