40 things you didn't know about 40 Hour Famine

For 40 years Australians have been putting their money where their mouth is and going without to raise money for the 40 Hour Famine. But how much do you know about the ​ground-breaking youth event?

  1. World Vision Australia started the 40 Hour Famine in 1975, making it the big 4-0 this year. 

  2. Australians have raised about $200 million over the past 40 years. (Pat yourself on the back.)

  3. More than half the schools in Australia have participated in the 40 Hour Famine at some point in the past 40 years.

  4. For many young Australians, the 40 Hour Famine was the first form of social activism they got involved with.

  5. In 1975 World Vision’s Communications Director, David Longe, had the vision of hundreds of thousands of Australians going hungry for 40 hours to raise money and help feed children around the world.

  6. Millions of Australians have participated in the 40 Hour Famine or donated to someone who is participating.

  7. Approximately 20 countries and 400,000 young people take part each year - making it one of the largest youth fundraising and education events globally.

  8. Monash university law student, Tim Costello did the first 40 Hour Famine in 1975 at the instigation of his younger brother Peter who was a World Vision youth representative at the university.

  9. Australians and New Zealanders are the only youth to tough it out for 40 hours, with other nations participating for 30, 24, 20, 12 and 8 hours.

  10. Hunger and malnutrition are the world’s number one health risk.

  11. The first 40 Hour Famine was held in Victoria with more than 16,000 participants raising $570,000. By 1978 the 40 Hour Famine was a national event.

  12. In 1994, the cast of Neighbours joined the 40 Hour Famine – complete with groovy branded t-shirts and backward caps.

  13. The concept for the 40 Hour Famine stemmed from a 17 year old Canadian girl who was inspired to raise money to help people affected by the famine in Ethiopia in 1971.

  14. In 1997, the cast of cult ABC show Heartbreak High had a sleepover at the school when they participated in the 40 Hour Famine.

  15. In 1986, Foodbusters was introduced so Aussie kids under 12 could participate by giving up food for eight hours.

  16. 40 Hour Famine funds have helped communities in Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chile, China, East Timor, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Laos, Malawi, Niger, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, and Zimbabwe - and many more.

  17. There is reason for hope; globally, the number of people living in extreme poverty has declined by more than half, falling from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015

  18. Last year, during the 20th to 25thhours of the 40 Hour Famine, over 35,000 people liked or commented on our Facebook page.

  19. Australian actors and famous sisters, Kylie and Dannii Minogue have both participated in the 40 Hour Famine.

  20. More than two million people have benefited from food assistance through funds raised through the 40 Hour Famine over the past seven years alone.

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  22. Each year hundreds of students apply to become World Vision Youth Ambassadors and only five are awarded this honour and travel to see World Vision’s work overseas as a result of the 40 Hour Famine funds.

  23. In 1983, (the time before the internet), a phone room was set up to handle the flood of calls to participate in the 40 Hour Famine and later to host TV specials and telethons.

  24. Some of the celebrities who have taken part include Rowena Wallace, Bert Newton, Rebecca Gibney, Andrew Gaze, Craig McLachlan, Jason Donovan, Marina Prior, Ray Martin, Hugh Jackman, Andrew Daddo, Angry Anderson, James Morrison, Dennis Lilley, David Boon, Garry McDonald, Richard Wilkins and Denise Drysdale.

  25. The 40 Hour Famine first moved online in 2000, in just one year it went from 1,600 sign ups to 9,087.

  26. In 1989, 40 students rode the rails of the Melbourne Metropolitan Rail system for the full 40 hours - even sleeping in the carriages overnight!

  27. The 40 Hour Famine went behind bars in 1986 at the Metropolitan Remand Centre at Long Bay. John Hennessey from the Comanchero Motor Cycle Club, raised $471 in sponsorships from fellow inmates.

  28. The youngest fundraiser in 1978 was seven year old David Cox who admitted he was mighty hungry,"but not nearly as hungry as the poor people in the world".

  29. Tara Anglican School for Girls in North Parramatta is Australia’s highest fundraising school of all time. Students have participated 27 times since 1988, raising a total of $380,858.

  30. Actor Garry McDonald was the first person to sign on as a participant in 1983 and went on a roadshow of Australia and encouraging people to join him in the 40 Hour Famine.

  31. Last year World Vision inspired around 4,500 student leaders from 600 secondary schools about the fight to end global hunger at 11 Youth Conferences held around Australia.

  32. In 1989, 1990 and 1992 Network 10 and World Vision held live telethons to raise money for the 40 Hour Famine.

  33. While fasting, people only consume water and barley sugars for the entire 40 hours.

  34. In 2011, the Big Brother housemates did the 40 Hour Famine in the Big Brother house.

  35. Prime Ministers Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke have both been 40 Hour Famine national patrons

  36. 80 per cent of the world lives on less than $10 per day.

  37. Last year World Vision Australia worked with 1,420 schools, church and community groups nationally to help educate 247,000 Australian youth about poverty.

  38. The most successful 40 Hour Famine fundraising year was 1991 where $7.3 million was raised thanks to a star studded televised telethon and auction on Network 10 with Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Craig McLachlan, Paul Hogan, Rebecca Gibney, Marina Prior, Steve Vizard, Jana Wendt, John Farnham and cast members of Neighbours, The Flying Doctors and Fast Forward. 

  39. In 1992, Sydney students ended their famine by tucking into a huge, record-breaking omelette measuring about 13 metres, beating the Guinness world record of 12.4 metres.

  40. World Vision raised awareness through a nation-wide tour with the Korean Children's Choir and Winifred Atwell in 1979.

  41. These days Australians can give up not just food, but anything important to them. The most popular thing people give up today is still food but also ranking highly are furniture, talking and technology.