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President Joins Fast to Call Attention to World Hunger

TIMES STAFF WRITER

President Clinton joined Rep. Tony P. Hall (D-Ohio) and 14 other House members Wednesday in a fast designed to call attention to world hunger.

Hall said Clinton agreed to participate during a meeting in the Oval Office. “He said: ‘Look, we haven’t had lunch yet. We’ll just fast with you the rest of the day,’ ” Hall said.

Vice President Al Gore nodded in assent but did not make a verbal commitment to join in the fast, Hall said. Gore’s office later said the vice president was participating.

“The vice president had lunch with the President, but all they had was water,” said Lorraine Voles of Gore’s office.

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White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers told reporters that Clinton promised he “would not eat any meals” Wednesday. She said he was drinking water and Diet Coke.

The President apparently got an early start on his fast. During the morning, he stopped by the Old Ebbitt Grill, a landmark restaurant near the White House, to see some fellow Arkansans, but had nothing to eat.

Hall, who has long sought to focus attention on the world’s hunger problem, went on a 22-day fast last year after Congress, in a budget move, cut off funds for the Select Committee on Hunger, which he headed, and three other panels that handled little legislation.

Hall promptly organized the Congressional Hunger Caucus, composed of dues-paying members, and the Hunger Center, a nonprofit organization supported by private donations. He said this year’s fast, in which members pledged to go without food for one to three days, “is to remind us that hunger remains a very serious problem and that the solution remains in our hands.”


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