Almsgiving Challenge


This Great Lent, we invite you to an intentional practice of the connection between fasting and almsgiving. We’ll be adding to the blog every few days with what we hear from our readers who are taking the Almsgiving Challenge to consume less + give more. Please email us at with details about how you plan to put the Almsgiving Challenge into practice. We’ll share your experience anonymously with our readers.

(From a reader): We’ve kept the Almsgiving Challenge in mind this Great Lent, and it has helped us practice almsgiving in a greater way than usual. However, we still have not gone hungry in order to fill the belly of someone who needs food more than we do. Our family agreed to have bread and water for dinner one night during Great Lent. That same day we went grocery shopping and bought as much food as we could for $40 dollars ($1 for each day of Great Lent) for our local food pantry. It was probably the most memorable dinner of the season!

(From a reader): Our condition here in the USA is such that we can give to the poor and still feed ourselves; blessed are the poor who give of their own sustenance to feed others and thereby deprive themselves of a meal. That’s true fasting!

(From a reader): I don’t really have a budget for food, so connecting fasting with almsgiving requires some thought and planning. What I will try is to put myself on a cash budget for food during lent. Before I go shopping, I will take some of the money out and set aside for the poor. I can only buy what I need with what’s left over.

(From a reader): God has given me so much! I want to use my talents to fulfill Christ’s command: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” Read about how a few people were the little leaven at their parish to start a new outreach to those in need in their community. Feed His Flock, Orthodox Action in Buffalo, NY, and the Philoxenia House in Rochester, MN

(From a reader): Connecting fasting + almsgiving is challenging, so I’m keeping it simple. A friend shared with me that she always buys something for the food pantry every time she shops, so at the very least I am trying to do that. I hope at some point to figure out how to actually go hungry and give what I could have eaten to the poor. Not there yet.

(From a reader): In our efforts to connect fasting + almsgiving, we found The Food Stamp Challenge, which challenges others to eat on the food budget of those who receive Food Stamps, or roughly $1 per meal per person. I found a wealth of meal-planning tips online and also used When You Fast by Catherine Mandell. We sometimes exceeded the $1 per meal guideline, but we still saved that first year more than 25% of our normal food budget. When I shopped, I made it a habit to spend 25% of my budget on food for our Food Bank and/or our local food pantry or local homeless. At the end of Lent we made a donation of the rest of our savings.


This Great Lent, we invite you to an intentional practice of the connection between fasting and almsgiving.

In the day on which you fast you will taste nothing but bread and water; and having reckoned up the price of the dishes of that day which you intended to have eaten, you will give it to a widow, or an orphan, or to some person in want, and thus you will exhibit humility of mind, so that he who has received benefit from your humility may fill his own soul, and pray for you to the Lord. If you observe fasting, as I have commanded you, your sacrifice will be acceptable to God, and this fasting will be written down; and the service thus performed is noble, and sacred, and acceptable to the Lord. These things, therefore, shall you thus observe with your children, and all your house, and in observing them you will be blessed; and as many as hear these words and observe them shall be blessed; and whatsoever they ask of the Lord they shall receive.

From the Shepherd of Hermas, Book III, a second century early Christian text, considered scriptural by many of the Church Fathers of the time




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