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Fast for Life

Join with churches, Christian organizations and people of faith around the world in prayer and fasting on Ash Wednesday, 5 March 2014.

Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance and it marks the beginning of Lent. Ashes were used in ancient times, according to the Bible, to express mourning. Dusting oneself with ashes was the penitent's way of expressing sorrow for sins and faults. Take this day to “Fast for Life” and to reflect on our own consumption and commit to doing what we can to overcome hunger and contribute to global food security.

More than one third of the food produced on this planet for human consumption is wasted. This amounts to approximately 1.3 billion tons of lost food per year. In developing countries, waste occurs mainly at the point of production – due to limitations in harvesting methods, preservation techniques, packaging and distribution systems - while in developed nations, waste results from consumer behaviour and inefficient processes in the supply chain.

Christians must not be passive witnesses to the fact that 15 million children worldwide are dying of hunger per year, especially when we consider the amount of food that is going to waste. In a world challenged by climate change, a rising population, and a global economic crisis, we need to be smarter, more efficient, and fairer about the way we produce, distribute and consume our food.

All the people had enough to eat. When they finished, Jesus said to his followers, "Gather the pieces of fish and bread that were not eaten. Don't waste anything."
- Feeding of the Five Thousand, John 6:12

Fast for Life! Ash Wednesday: What Can I Do?
There are many resources and ideas to assist those participating in the Day of Fasting for Life. These include prayers, bible studies, reflection questions and action ideas.


Your church, women’s group, prayer circle, club or school is encouraged to join people from all over the world in prayer during Ash Wednesday. Plan bible studies and group prayers for the day or hold a special order of worship service.  A special worship service (EN, SP, FR) has been developed. If your church is developing worship materials related to food justice please send them to us to share with others. You can find many Fast for Life worship resources on food waste here. Use, adapt and share these resources for Ash Wednesday to reflect on the numbers of hungry people and the amount of food that is wasted and lost along the way.

More Action Ideas

  • As a family, set up a "waste-tracker" sheet on your refrigerator or near your waste bins. Designate one family member to be the “waste buster” for the week and mark down how much food was wasted each day (i.e. fresh produce that went bad, food bought that expired and had to be thrown away, cooked food that wasn’t eaten). At the end of the week, discuss as a family ways to reduce this waste and options for disposal, such as composting. Use the Waste Tracker (EN, SP, FR)

  • Use the Weekly Meal Planner (EN, SP, FR) to help plan your food purchases Sticking to a shopping list will help you reduce the risk of impulse buys or buying unnecessary large quantities which then may be wasted.

  • Familiarise yourself with the chain of people involved in getting the food from the ground to your table. Invite them to answer the ‘Waste not, want not’ questionnaire available this week in our Fast for Life resource library. Form a study group to look at the responses and come up with action that your community can take to reduce waste. Why not a community compost or lobbying for a waste reduction law? Find our Questionnaires here.

  • Read some of the reports in the learning section and discuss with your family or church group the issues that most affect your community and country.

  • Share best practices in reducing post harvest losses and market and consumer waste on our Global Good Practices map here.

  • Reverse your shopping list. Start by looking at what you have at home and how you can use it prior to going to the store for more food. Pick up wasted groceries from local grocer and host a ‘Cooking from Scraps’ night at your local community centres or youth club.

  • Teach teens how to make ‘recipes from waste’ at after school groups and the difference between the ‘sell by date’ and the ‘consume by date’.Host a cooking competition with local cooks/restaurateurs to see what innovations can be created with leftovers.

  • Support farmer cooperatives to help smallholder farmers 1) be more efficient with their planning by knowledge sharing, 2) assist each other in times of risk and in marketing their products, and 3) work together to receive credit from agricultural financial institutions or advance payment from purchasers.

  • Discuss these issues with your government, and advocate for investment in infrastructure and transportation and proper waste management. See the online good practice map for for actions to suggest to the decision makers in your area.


These ideas for actions have been suggested by our members. Use ideas that work best in your context, be creative in adapting them or making up your own! Send in your suggestions to ccampeau@e-alliance.ch

Make a Pledge

As an individual , family, church or study group, consider the Fast for Life pledge (EN, SP, FR) and sign as a commitment to do what you can to minimize food waste through lent and beyond. Alternatively you can sign the pledge below.