Thursday morning I started fasting for the Inner City Development Emergency Food Pantry‘s Thanksgiving 365 (T-365). I am committed to eating only bread and water until I raise $1,000 to help serve more than 150,000 meals this year to families who are in crisis.

[Read our previous story from fundraiser Ryan Haug, Bread and Water: Fasting and Fundraising So Others May Eat.]

This was the first time that I have joined the cause so I thought it would be a piece of cake (if you’ll pardon the pun). We started the fast by visiting Broadway Daily Bread on De Zavala Road where the owner offered us free bread for the duration of our fast and a generous donation to get us started.

“This isn’t so bad,” I thought.

Throughout the day I kept my Facebook feed updated and sent emails, helping to maintain a steady stream of donations and I was feeling confident about hitting goal quickly. All the while I had a slice every now and again and made sure to drink plenty of water.

Matthew Barker (left) and Ryan Haug enjoying their free bread from Broadway Daily Bread off De Zavala Road.

When I arrived home in the evening fasting suddenly became a lot more difficult. There was Halloween candy everywhere and smell of a delicious dinner hung in the air. At this point it may have been easier to avoid eating dinner with my family but I think it is important as a faster to understand what people less fortunate than ourselves have to experience on a daily basis. My three-year-old son wondered why I was only eating bread and took a few slices for himself – maybe next year I should recruit him to help fundraise?

Friday morning I woke up with my stomach rumbling and a headache. I was starting to feel hungry. I made breakfast for my son. Chocolate cheerios have never looked so delicious.

Then I had my breakfast (bread, obviously) and headed to work where I checked my donations. I was quarter of the way to goal, and a long weekend of fasting was looking likely. Time to think of some different fundraising techniques.

During Friday lunchtimes, a dozen food trucks visit the offices at Rackspace so we set up a table outside to catch fellow Rackers as they took their delicious food back into the office. This was a successful tactic – there was a lot of foot traffic and Rackers stepped up to contribute to the cause.

Friday afternoon I started to feel very tired and my stomach was on a constant rumble. I had been told that after about a day you get tired of eating bread so you end up not eating enough. I had reached that point.

However, I am starting to get a glimpse into how it feels to have hunger as a part of your daily life. It makes every task more labored, you have less energy and your thoughts are less clear. Next time I fast I’ll have to make sure that I have no meetings and my workload is light because I definitely don’t feel as sharp as usual. I like to work out regularly by going for a run or doing crossfit but I just don’t feel like I have the energy to do either right now. I’m amazed how it has only taken a couple of days to feel this way, and I can’t imagine feeling like this 24/7. I also know that the end is in sight and that I can stop this at any time if I wanted to – many others are much less fortunate.

I’m now at 75 percent of my $1,000 goal – I’m hoping with some more calls, emails, tweets and Facebook messages I can make goal by tomorrow.

Donate to the Inner City Development Emergency Food Bank, click here and follow through to find fasters also fundraising for this cause.

“As of this afternoon (Tuesday), we are just about half-way there.  We are just short of $15,000 with $15,000 more to raise.  Everyone is saying it feels a tougher this year.  We’re thinking that it has a lot to do with the campaign season, especially with it being the presidential year,” writes Inner City Development Co-Director Patti Radle in an email to supporters, “But here’s some encouraging news:
  • The Jesuit community here at Our Lady of Guadalupe donated $1,000 from their Jesuit Appeal account.  They have always been generous to Thanksgiving 365.
  • Joaquin Castro donated $500 and committed to raise the other $500.
  • A supporter who had a fundraiser (with food) at her house for a political candidate, after being embarrassed for not reading our buttons that said, “Help! I’m fasting until I raise $1,000 for Thanksgiving 365,” and offered us a tray of food to eat and something to drink, ended up committing to $1,000 for T-365.
  • Rose Orosco is selling bread and broth at her church (Our Lady of Guadalupe) to raise her $1,000.
  • An Inner City friend is having a party to celebrate his years of sobriety and asking friends to bring money for T-365.
  • Women in Church and Society at OLLU are taking up donations at the Hunger Banquet on campus and donating it to T-365.”
  • For inspiration: One of our fasters, Sammy Rodriguez, has now been fasting for five days.  He’s diabetic, so he’s being careful to eat enough not to mess himself up, but he keeps going and he’s hungry.  He could use some help:
Sammy Rodriguez makes sandwiches for Inner City Development
Sammy Rodriguez is on the 6th day of his fast. He is diabetic, so he’s is being careful to eat something, but very limited–little enough to experience the hunger, but not drastically enough to risk his health.Everyday during the week, Sammy volunteers with the ICD emergency food pantry and sack lunch program. Even though he is fasting, he is preparing cheese and bologne sandwiches for those people living on the edge of survival and who come by the center for a sack lunch – people who are homeless or shadow homeless (homeless but temporarily sheltered by someone – sleeping on a couch, in a garage, on a porch. So far

Sammy has about $600 in commitments – he is dreaming of carne guisada tacos when his team makes the $1,000 goal! — Patti Radle

Matt Barker works for Rackspace, the open cloud company. He took a job transfer to San Antonio from his native England in 2003, met his wife Courtney and has lived here ever since with their two young children. This is the first year he has volunteered for Inner City Development.

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org