Local man takes action against world hunger

Ryan Kellermeyer is on a mission to end world hunger – at the expense of his health.

Ryan Kellermeyer hasn’t eaten a proper meal in almost two months. Living on just water and one bowl of brown rice per day, he has already lost 35 pounds and will continue to lose more as the weeks go by.

What’s the cause for his significant weight loss?

Ryan Kellermeyer began a hunger strike Jan. 1, in part to re-evaluate his eating and spending habits. So far, he has lost 35 lbs. and counting (Kristin Gallagher/TTN).

Kellermeyer, 31, is taking a stance against world hunger by going on a hunger strike.

The strike began on Jan. 1, when he pledged to drastically cut back on his food consumption until $1 million is raised for organizations fighting world hunger.

Using the fast food documentary Super Size Me as inspiration, he came up with the “Simple Size Me” campaign. So far, he has raised more than $3,350 and is slowly on his way to meeting his goal.
His campaign includes the Web site simplesizeme.com, on which he periodically posts videos on his progress. It also has a page on the Causes application on Facebook.

Kellermeyer, who works at the Ayuda Community Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families in North Philadelphia, was troubled by the number of people who die from hunger and related causes – approximately 20,000 to 25,000 each day – and wanted to do something about it.

“We’re talking about a whole lot of people,” Kellermeyer said. “Right now, we have a bailout plan that’s putting all our money toward the rich, banks and the economy, when nobody really knows what that’s doing anyways. And there are so many people who don’t even have enough food to live on. To me, that’s troublesome.”

He also had other reasons to follow through with the project. Kellermeyer was struggling to figure out how to live on his current salary and had received a warning from his doctor to watch his diet. He wanted to re-examine his personal life, how he spent his money and what foods he ate.

“As Americans, I think we’re trained to want as much as we can get for ourselves,” he said. “You have to wonder if that’s really good for yourself and if it’s good for the world that you live in. I think there’s a lot of evidence that would say that it’s not.”

Kellermeyer, who used to be an avid coffee drinker, struggled during the first few days of the fast, suffering from severe headaches due to caffeine withdrawal. Except for the headaches, he said the first month was somewhat easy – he actually felt normal with the exception of the first day.

Lately, he has been feeling famished, and his nose has become sensitive to surrounding food, making him feel hungrier at times.

“Just the other day, I was walking through the park and suddenly I could smell McDonald’s,” Kellermeyer said with a laugh. “When I looked around, I saw a guy about a hundred miles away holding a bag with the logo. I was pretty amazed that I could sniff it from so far away.”

But even with his recent hunger pains, Kellermeyer is determined to continue his mission until his goal is reached. Although he admits to thinking about what his cutoff point should be, he is trying his best to stick it out.

Kellermeyer said society has become unresponsive to images of starving children in developing nations, and it would be useful to put a new face on hunger. He hopes that once he gets really skinny, people will take notice, and it will build momentum for his project.

He said he expected the campaign to start slowly, but he doesn’t think his goal of raising $1 million for world hunger organizations is too ambitious.

Kellermeyer is not interested in donating to domestic organizations. In his opinion, starvation is not as big of a problem in the United States as it is worldwide. He said the United States has the opposite problem, as 32 percent of American adults are obese.

“I’m not saying [hunger] doesn’t exist, but I’m certain that there is nowhere near 20,000 people dying a day from hunger in the U.S.,” he said.

Kellermeyer said the United States is a rich country, filled with rich people. To him, poverty is a relative thing, and anyone who can afford to go to college is rich.

“Don’t let anybody tell you different,” Kellermeyer added. “You are one of the wealthiest people in the world.”

He draws this conclusion from globalrichlist.com, a Web site that allows individuals to type in their annual incomes to see how rich they are from a global perspective. Most Americans will probably find that they are at least in the top 10 percent, if not higher – meaning 90 percent of the world is poorer. To him, that’s a very empowering position to be in.

As a Christian, Kellermeyer said his job is to help his neighborhood.

“I believe that my neighborhood will be most healthy when we’re helping other communities who are even worse off,” he said.

Perhaps the best explanation for his mission is the motto written on his Web site.

“Hunger sucks. We’re rich. Giving is fun.”

Simple words for a cause with a simple solution.

Christeen Vilbrun can be reached at christeen.vilbrun@temple.edu.

1 Comment

  1. This is awesome! I went to school with this guy and I think what he’s doing is tremendous. I don’t think their is a government bailout big enough to “save” americans from having to tighten their perverbial belts. Until we decide that cable television is a luxury item, that daily fast food and microwave meals are luxury items, that our new car leases are luxury items, we are going to continue to have an economic crisis. You cannot spend your way out a problem that absorbant spending created. We must cut back our luxury’s, save some money for the future, stop maxing our our credit cards for the latest fashions and trends trying to keep up with the jones’ and learn how to buy used, shop at thrift stores, by store brand items, and give something to those less fortunate than us. Ryan has the rigth idea and we’d all be blessed to follow suit. It’s people like Ryan who are going to fix the problems of this world, and who will probably help the us arrogant americans navigate our way out of the economic crisis that the central bankers’ greed, feed by the american entitlement complex of the middle and upper class, got us into. We can’t spend our way out of this. We must save our money, pay off debt and contribute to the needs of others. It’s the only way out and that is what Ryan is doing. More power to you!!
    –Drew Cope–

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