St. John Neumann youth to fast to raise hunger awareness, funds

MERRIMACK – For the 13th year, St. John Neumann youth members will participate in a 30-hour fast Friday and Saturday to raise awareness and funds for local nonprofit agencies that assist those who are less fortunate.

The Fast for Social Action makes participants aware of social injustices and educates them on the needs of their neighbors. The fast encourages children and teens to make a positive difference in the world, starting with their own communities.

Over the past 12 years, 882 participants have raised more than $213,000 for local nonprofit agencies. Thirty-five agencies have been beneficiaries of the fast, along with Twinning Parish in St. Vincent. Approximately 62,000 pounds of food has been collected through the Fast Food Drive and donations from local high schools, middle schools and the Merrimack Library.

The fast begins Friday afternoon and ends Saturday evening. After eating lunch Friday, the participants – youth and adults – abstain from eating solid food for approximately 30 hours until the “Break-fast” potluck dinner after the 5:30 p.m. Mass on Saturday.

The only source of nourishment is juice and water during this time. The participants, students from sixth grade through high school and adults from as many as 10 different towns, commit to staying overnight at the church hall with adult chaperones.

On Saturday morning, volunteer drivers will help the participants with the morning food drive. The fast participants will go to local supermarkets and purchase food for a family of four with a limited amount of money to do so, much like that of families who have limited income and must find a creative way of providing food for their families.

They will then come back to St. John Neumann’s Parish Hall with the groceries and weigh-in. Then they will sort the food along with the canned goods that have already been dropped off at the church the week before the fast and put the items into the food pantry for the 330 families (1,200 people) the church’s food pantry fed last year.

This year’s agency recipients are America Cares, DARE, Salvation Army, St. John Neumann Outreach, Project Linus and High Hopes.

The community can participate in the fast by bringing non-expired and non-dented canned goods to St. John Neumann Church until noon Saturday.

For information or to make a food donation, call 880-0825, e-mail or visit